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Last week I wrote about
how honored Ryan Williams
was in accepting the No. 23 jersey to wear this season in
tribute to former East Carolina coach Keith LeClair.
This week I’m here to write that Williams is earning that number for
Williams picked up the victory in both of East Carolina’s wins this
weekend over James Madison. The Pirates
took the opening game 6-5 on a walk-off Dukes' error
in the 9th. The Pirates
dropped game two, but then came back and
took the series with Sunday’s 4-2 win.
Williams was great in both games.
In the opener, this year’s No. 23 threw 2 1/3 innings, giving up a pair
of hits, striking out two and giving up just one unearned run.
In game three, Williams pitched 4 shutout innings. He struck out six,
and once again he didn’t walk anybody.
Williams didn’t pitch in the second game, which East Carolina lost 5-2
despite outhitting the Dukes 11-9.
For the weekend Williams pitched 6 1/3 innings, striking out 8, while
giving up just five hits. He gave up only one unearned run and he didn’t
walk a batter. That last stat may be the most important one.
The coaches told me before the season they would use Williams like they
used former Pirate reliever Brad Mincey. Pirate fans remember how
effective Mince was in long relief. Williams may turn out to be even
“I just have to be ready to go every day,” said Williams after the
Sunday win. “I really don’t know what's coming that day but I expect to
do whatever this team needs. It’s good to come out of the first weekend.
We’ve had to deal with snow and stuff so it’s good to get this first
series win under our belt.”
“Tyler Bolton gave us a good start,” said Pirate coach Billy Godwin.
“Ryan Williams, well we’re not going to waste any time getting to him
because that’s the role we’ve talked about for him. Then having Reynolds
nail it down at the end of the game was certainly comforting.”
Coach Godwin was pleased with his team’s start, but he knows there are
areas that the Pirates have to improve on.
“I think the big thing is that we’ve got to tighten up the little
things,” said Godwin. “We had a man on second three times in the game
with nobody out and we’re not advancing. We‘re not bunting in those
situations because it’s Reynolds, Townsend and Houchins in your middle
of the order. We want these guys swinging the bats and moving runners.”
Overall it was a good weekend. Saturday’s weather was absolutely brutal,
but certainly not an excuse for a loss. The series win is the seventh in
a row for East Carolina dating back to last season.
“If you win every series over the course of a year, it’s a good year,”
said Godwin. “Certainly I’d like to come out of here 3-0, but JMU has a
good club. They are a veteran group but I thought we did some good
things particularly today."
Last year the Pirates were just 4-10 in midweek games, which cost them a
spot in the NCAA Baseball Regionals. The team’s first midweek test of
the season comes Tuesday when Campbell pays a visit to Greenville.
Last year the Camels swept East Carolina in their two games.
“What happened last year, well we’ve forgotten about, so we’re focused
on this year,” said Godwin. “It’s a new club. We’re going to start Reid
Love in that game and he’s the guy you got a glimpse of yesterday. We
think eventually he’s fighting for a weekend job but we just want him to
get his feet back under him. Campbell is a good club. They’re coming off
49 wins and are a team that beat us twice last year. I hope our guys are
ready for that because they’re going to come in here and they’re going
to play hard.”
The Pirates hit the road next weekend in a big three-game series at
The Cavaliers opened the season as the number one team in the nation,
but lost to Kentucky before beating VMI and UNC-Wilmington this weekend
in the Hughes Bros. Challenge in played in Wilmington.