East Carolina extended its baseball
winning streak to eight games this week with a
dramatic comeback at Campbell
shutout at home of UNC-Wilmington
in a matchup of nationally-ranked teams.
After playing 11 of their last 12 games
on Lewis Field at Clark-LeClair Stadium, the Pirates are on the road for
nine of their next 10 contests beginning with a Conference USA
doubleheader at Marshall starting at 1 p.m. today.
The remainder of the three-game series
with the Thundering Herd will be played as weather permits this weekend.
ECU (18-4, 3-0 C-USA) made the bus ride
to Charleston, WV, on Thursday with a stopover in Winston-Salem for
supper at a Chili's restaurant.
Coach Billy Godwin has been pleased
with his team's rise to No. 19 nationally but qualifies his approval
with an assertion that the Pirates are a work in progress.
"There are several areas we've got to
get better at," said the ECU coach. "We've got a good group of men.
They've bought in to what we're doing. They've executed at a high
Right-handed transfer Chris Heston is
scheduled to start the first game at Marshall. ECU's weekend rotation,
which also includes sophomore right-hander Seth Maness and freshman
lefty Kevin Brandt, have a combined record of 9-0.
"We're still figuring out our starting
pitching," Godwin said. "If you had told me Mike Anderson and Stihl
Sowers would be a combined 1-2, I would have said there's no way we
could be 18-4. They really haven't thrown bad at times but they really
haven't made the contributions I thought they would at this point.
"On the flip side, you've got guys like
Kevin Brandt, who is 4-0, and Brad Mincey is 4-1. We've had some guys
step up in that void but we still need to solidify our rotation. I think
we're very good at the end of the game with (Bailey) Daniels and (Seth)
Simmons. Both of those guys have thrown extremely well."
Both Daniels and Simmons are 1-0 with a
pair of saves each. Daniels has a 2.25 earned run average while Simmons
is at 2.45.
ECU opened league play last weekend by
sweeping Central Florida
"We played very well," Godwin said.
"There's no doubt. When you hold an opponent — and I don't care who it
is — to seven runs in three games in this conference, that's good. I
mean that's very good. Now we scored 49 runs. I told some people last
week that the 49 runs overshadowed some pretty good pitching."
Pirates compete at Buies Creek
The Pirates went from their
overwhelming performance against the Knights into a 6-3 hole through
three innings at Campbell on Tuesday night. ECU needed successive hits
with two out in the top of the ninth by Ryan Wood, Stephen Batts and
Kyle Roller to overcome a 9-8 Camels lead.
Simmons struck out the side in the
bottom of the ninth for the win.
"I told our players the Campbell game
was by far our worst baseball performance, really all year," Godwin
said. "When you look back and look at the things that are important, we
hit three guys, we walked six, we made three errors and we gave up 11
"At the end of the day, if you tell
anybody in baseball that, you probably think we walk away with a loss.
... I thought what we did a great job of — which is just as important —
we competed at a high level. We didn't play at a high level but we
competed at a high level."
Pirates deeper behind plate
The Pirates faced some significant
personnel losses from last year's 42-21 team that included catcher Corey
Kemp, the C-USA player of the year. Kemp hit .341 with 18 home runs and
Junior transfer Jared Avchen has come
in and been very solid behind the plate while hitting .365 with two
homers. Freshman Zach Wright has a .304 average and three round
"It's probably the deepest we've been
(at catcher) with those two guys," Godwin said. "We feel very
comfortable with both of those big, physical guys. They both can hit.
They bring a lot of heart to the table. We just prayed Corey didn't get
hurt because we didn't have a ton of depth but now we've got good
players and depth at that position."
Redshirt sophomore outfielder Devin
Harris is making a contribution with a .417 average.
"We had high expectations for him
because he's got great physical tools," Godwin said. "He's got power. He
can run. He can really throw."
Sophomore Trent Whitehead is hitting
.427 after getting 88 at-bats last season.
"He's really emerged in that leadoff
spot," Godwin said. "He's really energized our team and given us a
Newcomers Heston and Brandt have helped
offset the loss of T.J. Hose and Justin Bristow, who combined for 16
wins in 2008.
First baseman Brandon Henderson, who
wears former coach Keith LeClair's No. 23, may be out for two to three
weeks after turning an ankle, and outfielder Trent Ashcraft is
experiencing back problems.
"After 22 games, it could be a lot
worse," Godwin said of the injury situation.
Challenge at Marshall
ECU swept the three-game series from
Marshall in Greenville last season. The Pirates lead the all-time series
10-1. The Thundering Herd is 10-12 overall this season with a 2-1 record
"They return a great deal of talent
from a club that won 30 games last year," Godwin said. "They probably
had one of the better seasons in Marshall history. They played in our
Conference USA tournament championship.
"On paper they appear to be a little
better on the mound. Coach (Jeff) Waggoner has done a great job. We've
got a good challenge as we go on the road. We're playing an
up-and-coming program in our league and it's something we can't take for