This post appears here courtesy of ECU Sports
— Nationally-ranked East Carolina opens the 2021 season on Friday, Feb. 19 when it plays host to Rhode Island in the first of a three-game series. First pitch of the weekend is slated for 4 p.m. (EST) at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.
The Pirates, who have made 30 NCAA Regional appearances, posted a 13-4 record a year ago before the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ECU returns return 27 players, including American Athletic All-Conference performers Tyler Smith (2018) and Jake Kuchmaner (2019), as well as Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-America selection C.J. Mayhue (2020). In all, the roster consists of 22 freshmen, six sophomores, nine juniors and three seniors.
Also stepping onto the diamond are 12 newcomers in Danny Beal (RHP), Joey Berini (INF), CJ Boyd (1B/RHP), Garrett Chandler (OF), Cam Clonch (OF/1B/RHP), Landon Ginn (RHP), Josh Grosz (RHP), Ryley Johnson (OF), Josh Moylan (1B), Joey Rezek (OF/C), Austin St. Laurent (INF/RHP) and Jacob Starling (INF/OF).
2021 TEAM QUICK HITS
INDIVIDUAL QUICK HITS
- ECU will open up its 87th season of collegiate baseball (1932-42, 1946-present) this weekend hosting Rhode Island in a three-game set.
- The Pirates have made a regional appearance in 16 of the last 21 seasons, including four of five under Godwin (2015, '16, '18, '19) — no post-season in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic.
- Including the 2021 preseason, ECU has been ranked or received votes in at least one national poll for 43-straight weeks (began in 2018 preseason).
- Prior to the 2020 season being cut short due to COVID-19 pandemic, ECU outscored its opponents 117-54.
- The Pirates led the nation (2020) in fielding percentage (.990) and sac bunts (23) ... They also finished in the top 10 in batting average (.317) and hits (183).
- ECU enters 2021 having won more overall games than any team in The American over the last six years (214) and more league games (71), which included a league best 20 in 2019.
- For the third-straight year and fourth time since joining The American in 2015, ECU was picked to finish first in the 2021 preseason poll by the league's eight head coaches.
- In 2020, the Pirates fanned 171 batters in 17 contests (10.1 Ks pg) with a season-high 17 coming in the series finale against William & Mary — the most since 17 vs. UCF on March 22, 2019 ... ECU's hurlers fanned nine or more batters in a game 12 times (10-plus seven times).
- Heading into the season opener, ECU has five two-way players on its roster ... Dubbed #2WayU by Godwin, the five players are Zach Agnos, Skylar Brooks, Cam Clonch, Ryder Giles and Austin St. Laurent.
PROBABLE STARTERS (2020 stats)
- Seventh-year head coach Cliff Godwin stands third on ECU's all-time wins list with 214 victories ... He passed his college coach and ECU Hall of Famer Keith LeClair (212) on March 8, 2020 with a 4-1 win at Charlotte in the series finale ... His .654 win percentage stands 15th among active NCAA DI coaches (page 10) ... Bio bullet points on page 5 of notes.
- Four Pirates earned inclusion on the preseason all-conference team in OF/INF Thomas Francisco, LHP Jake Kuchmaner, 2B Connor Norby and OF Bryson Worrell ... Kuchmaner and Worrell were two of five players on the squad that were unanimous selections.
- Kuchmaner was tied for second in the nation in victories in 2020 with four after posting a 4-0 record in four appearances and a 0.60 ERA ... In 2019 he tossed the 31st perfect game in NCAA DI history at Maryland on March 17 ... Tallied four career quality starts.
- Tyler Smith, a 2018 all-conference performer, owns an 18-3 career record (85.7 win pct.) with one save in 61 games (30 starts) ... Tallied six career quality starts.
- Worrell led the Pirates in six offensive categories in 2020, which included doubles (six), HRs (five), RBI (14), total bases (43), slugging (.729) and walks (10) ... Closed out the season reaching base in eight-straight games (Feb. 29-March 11).
- Francisco batted a team second-best .423 with a home run, 7 RBI and scored five times in nine games a year ago ... Tallied four multi-hit and two multi-RBI games in 2020.
- Norby hit at a .403 clip in 2020 and led the club in hits (25) and stolen bases (6-8), while standing third in runs scored (14) ... Started all 17 games at second base.
- C.J. Mayhue stood second on the team in strikeouts (19) and innings pitched (16.0), while sharing the team lead in appearances (8) in 2020 ... Earned his first career win against Georgia Southern (2/23/20) ... Struck out a career-high six batters in a career-best 3.1 innings against No. 13 Ole Miss in relief.
- Ryder Giles started 15 games at shortstop sporting a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage ... Appeared in four games on the mound notching two saves with 7 Ks in 4.1 IPs.
- Zach Agnos started 17 games at third base where he batted .246 with nine RBI and seven runs scored ... One of 13 players to post a 1.000 fielding percentage in 2020.
- Seniors Matt Bridges and Cam Colmore return for their sixth year ... Combined, they have appeared in 124 games, with an 8-4 record, seven saves with 160 Ks in 163.1 IPs.
GODWIN AT A GLANCE
- Friday: RHP Ryan Twitchell (0-1, 4.50 ERA) vs. RHP Tyler Smith (2-1, 1.96 ERA)
- Saturday: RHP Mike Webb (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Jake Kuchmaner (4-0, 0.60 ERA)
- Sunday: RHP Vitaly Jangols (2-1, 3.00 ERA) vs. LHP Carson Whisenhunt (0-0, 99.00 ERA)
- Cliff Godwin, who was named the 16th head coach in school history on June 25, 2014, was a four-year letterwinner for the Pirates from 1998-2001 ... He has been a part of 11 NCAA Regional and two College World Series teams at the Division I level as an assistant coach and head coach ... During his six years at the helm of the program, Godwin has guided ECU to four NCAA Regional berths (2018 and 2019 Greenville Regional host), two Super Regional appearances, the 2019 American Athletic Conference Regular season title, a pair of AAC Tournament crowns and a 214-113-1 (.654) overall record ... Ten players have earned All-America status, while 10 were NCAA All-Regional selections, 16 were named all-conference (15 first-teamers) and 14 were drafted by Major League Baseball teams ... A two-time AAC Coach-of-the-Year selection (2015, 2019), Godwin was inducted into the George Whitfield Hall of Fame in January of 2016 ... In 2018, he completed a summer stint on the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team staff that posted a 12-3 record that included series wins over Chinese Taipei, Japan and Cuba ... As a player, he helped former ECU skipper Keith LeClair's teams post a 169-76 four-year ledger, including 46-plus wins in each of his final three seasons (46-16 in '99, 46-18 in '00 and 47-13 in '01) ... ECU won a pair of CAA Tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA Regionals every season from 1999 to 2001 ... The Pirates were the top seed in their regional all three years, including a No. 7 national seed in 2001 where they advanced to the Super Regional round before being eliminated by Tennessee.