Updated: Dec 28, 2019
We're taking a look back and a look ahead at college baseball teams from around the country. Next up are the ECU Pirates!
Even if you don’t follow college baseball closely, you know that the ECU Pirates have earned a spot among the upper echelon of college baseball in recent years. Will 2020 be the year they finally break through to Omaha?
A Look Back at 2019
The 2019 season marked another successful venture for ECU. Posting a 47-18 overall record and a staggering 20-4 conference record, the Pirates finished seven games ahead of the second-place team in the American Conference standings—easily the largest margin in conference history. ECU’s historic 2019 included four sweeps of conference opponents and wins in all of their other conference series.
In total, wins in 11 of their 12 series (their only series loss was to #1 UCLA) and midweek wins over Ole Miss, Duke, and North Carolina further boosted the Pirates’ resume earning ECU the right to host a Regional.
The rain-soaked affair in Greenville was not without drama for ECU, but after losing to Quinnipiac, the Pirates stormed through the rest of the Regional in convincing fashion, defeating the other three teams in the Regional along the way. With the Regional win, the Pirates made the fifth Super Regional in program history. After two tough games, the Pirates' season was cut short in the Louisville Super Regional, leaving ECU fans hungry for more.
ECU was led by some elite talent, including three All-Americans—junior Jake Agnos, sophomore and two-way player Alec Burleson, and junior Spencer Brickhouse. The trio marks the most All-Americans in Head Coach Cliff Godwin's tenure at ECU.
A crew of seven Pirates were drafted in the 2019 MLB draft including Agnos (third round), Bryant Packard (fifth round), and Brickhouse (seventh round) all within the first ten rounds.
A Look Ahead at 2020
ECU will look to build upon their sustained success in the 2020 season. The return of key contributors like Burleson and Jake Kuchmaner should give the Pirates stability in the pitching rotation, but the losses of Packard and Brickhouse in the lineup may prove difficult to overcome.
The Pirates start the 2020 season with two series against solid mid-major teams in William & Mary and Georgia Southern. In the third weekend of the year, ECU will host the 17th-Annual Keith LeClair Classic (Check out a full list of 2020 College Baseball Tournaments here). Indiana, Ole Miss, and High Point will visit Greenville for a round-robin tournament in what may be the highlight of the Pirates' non-conference play.
Smattered throughout conference play the Pirates have scheduled ambitious midweek games, including home-and-homes with North Carolina, UNCW, and Campbell. ECU will also invite Duke for a midweek game.
ECU's American Conference schedule features several challenging road series including at UCF to start conference play. April will bring a difficult stretch for the Pirates as they face off with Houston in Greenville before traveling to play UCONN.
The Pirates travel to Tulane for their second-to-last conference series before hosting USF to end the season.
John’s (@johnny_omaha_) 2020 Prediction: The Pirates will make a Regional.
It's hard to find one single team that will seriously challenge ECU in the American, and I expect the Pirates to repeat as conference champs. I wouldn't be surprised if the standings are a little closer than last year with Houston, UCONN, Tulane, and a few other contenders chasing ECU down, but I would take ECU over the field. Winning the American Conference could set ECU up to host, but right now I project Pirates will end up as a competitive two-seed in a Regional with the potential to host. Midweeks will prove important for boosting ECU's RPI.
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