As the No. 10 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, the East Carolina University baseball team is hosting three other teams at the Greenville Regional Tournament.
If ECU’s (41-13, 20-4 AAC) pitching staff stays consistent, and they are able to make the most of their offensive opportunities, they will be able to win the regional and advance to the next round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Greenville Regional Tournament starts on Friday, and will span the weekend, with the regional championship game beginning on Monday at 1 p.m.
ECU will host North Carolina State University, Campbell University, and Quinnipiac University at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
NC State (42-17, 18-12 ACC) will face off against Campbell (35-19, 19-7 Big South) to kick off the tournament on Friday at 12 p.m. The Pirates will play Quinnipiac (29-27, 17-7 MAAC) after that game on Friday at 6 p.m.
Despite having the American Conference Pitcher of the Year, one of ECU’s biggest struggles recently has been their pitching staff. Junior pitcher Jake Agnos won the award for the Pirates, but only appeared in one American Athletic Conference Tournament game.
Jake Agnos’ only appearance in the AAC Tournament was against the University of Houston, where he allowed only four hits and one run through seven innings.
Sophomore pitcher Jake Kuchmaner had an uncharacteristic AAC tournament appearance on May 24. Entering the tournament 6-1 on the season, he allowed a career high eight runs from eight hits during merely two innings. As a team, ECU used seven pitchers during their elimination game against Wichita.
If ECU wants to have success, they need to utilize Agnos during must-win matchups against tough offenses and have consistent pitching from all of their available staff.
Quinnipiac will face ECU in their first game of the Greenville Regional Tournament, and bring a very talented closer to the matchup.
Senior pitcher Andrew Workman won the 2019 MAAC Baseball Relief Pitcher of the Year, being the first player in program history to win the award. Eight saves and 1.14 ERA highlight his 2019 season, and is tied for second in the MAAC for saves.
Junior outfielder Andre Marrero has 68 hits, 10 home runs, 47 runs scored and with 44 RBI’s. Marrero is second in the MAAC for slugging, second in stolen bases and fourth in home runs.
Both quinnipiac players will be manageable for the Pirates, as long as the Pirates utilize opportunities on offence and cleans up their pitching.
The Wolfpack have several key hitters that can outperform the best that pitching staffs have to offer.
Junior shortstop Will Wilson was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, and for good reason. He is a large contributing factor to the Wolfpack’s .981 fielding percentage, the highest in the ACC. Wilson also has a .698 slugging percentage, the second highest home run hitter in the ACC and 21st in the NCAA.
Another big hitter for NC State, Sophomore catcher Patrick Bailey was the 2018 ACC Freshman of the year, and broke the school freshman home run record with 18 on the season. Bailey certainly hasn’t slowed down during his second year with NC State.
For the 2019 season, Bailey has 65 hits, 17 doubles, nine home runs and a .516 slugging percentage. He was a semifinalist for the Buster Posey Award for the best collegiate catcher, and made the all ACC first-team roster.
If the NC State plays ECU, both hitters will give the Pirates trouble in the inevitable matchup between both teams. To give ECU their best chance of victory, Agnos must start.
Another team ECU may face in the Greenville Regional, Campbell’s pitching staff is certain to slow down all teams that face them.
Senior pitcher Mike Horrell was named the 2019 Big South Pitcher of the Year, and has 68 strikeouts and only 12 walks on the season. Horrell has 5.67 strikeout-to-walk ratio, ranking No. 29 in the country for the ratio. He also has a 2.35 ERA, the second best in the Big South.
Another key player for Campbell is freshman pitcher Ryan Chasse. Chasse won the 2019 Big South Freshman of the Year award, excelling at holding batters to low averages. In regular season games, he held all batters to a .215 or lower batting average. In conference games, Chasse holds opponents to even lower averages with .150 being the highest batting average he allowed.
Both pitchers could prove difficult against ECU and may cause the Pirates to make more mistakes while batting, and to value every offensive opportunity.
If Kuchmaner and Agnos are consistent throughout the weekend, along with the rest of their pitching staff they are bound to have success in the tournament.