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The Keith LeClair Classic may turn out to be just what the doctor
ordered for this East Carolina baseball team.
The Pirates came into the event on Friday riding a four-game losing
Three losses to top-ranked Virginia and a midweek
shutout loss to Virginia Commonwealth made for a tough
The Pirates pitched well enough in the losing streak, but the bats took
a snooze north of the Carolina border.
While the return home didn’t totally wake up the sticks, it did give the
Pirates enough offense for the continued great pitching to gain a trio
of victories against the likes of
One crazy stat from the final game of the LeClair Classic is that ECU
fell behind for the eleventh straight contest.
Former D.H. Conley star Davis Kirkpatrick got the start against the
Buckeyes and his performance was very similar to his first outing. He
got off to a slow start but then came on and gave the Pirates four solid
The MVP of this team to date is reliever Ryan Williams. Williams wears
the honorary number 23 to honor the tournament’s namesake, and he picked
up two more wins in relief over the weekend. Williams has been nothing
short of brilliant so far, picking up four wins in six relief outings.
“The honor of wearing ‘23’ is enough, but getting wins for this team is
definitely something I’m proud of,” said Williams.
Williams’ first win of the weekend came on Friday when ace Jeff Hoffman
struck out a career high 14 batters against Western Kentucky. Hoffman
was at his best as a Pirate but left the game with no decision. Still,
Hoffman’s performance certainly bodes well for the remainder of the
The other pitching star of the weekend was Drew Reynolds. On Sunday
Reynolds recorded his 27th career save at East Carolina, breaking the
school record. Number 27 was anything but easy.
The Buckeyes began the ninth down by two runs, but quickly cut the lead
to one with back to back hits. Another hit gave the Buckeyes runners on
the corners with two outs. Reynolds buckled down and held on for the
record breaking save.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” said Reynolds afterwards. “But you know it’s
not just about me. It’s about all the great guys I have played with on
the way. And (it’s about) Seth Simmons, who came before me and kind of
taught me how to handle being a closer in the late game situations. It’s
just 27 wins that I’ve helped the Pirates get.”
Godwin knew that Reynolds struggled with the record breaking save. He
also had confidence in his closer.
“That’s a veteran,” said Godwin. “That’s a senior who’s not going to get
rattled. He’s going to hang in there and keep grinding. I mean two years
ago who knows because that doesn’t always happen as a sophomore. But as
a senior he showed the metal and the maturity to step up there — that’s
just who he is. He’s not going to go out there and get everybody out
every day but his ability to compete is special. That’s what he did by
getting that save out there.”
While the weekend sweep was nice, Godwin knows his offense has to get
better. The Pirates managed just four hits on Friday in the win over
Western Kentucky and five hits against Ohio State on Sunday.
“I think we’re still having some good at bats,” said Godwin. “I think
everybody wants to look at the results (as in) did we get a hit? Did we
do this? Guys start locking in and it was good to see Ian (Townsend). I
kind of challenge the guys. It’s going to come. We just have to keep
believing and keep working with these guys, coaching them and working
with their approach.”
This week the Pirates have a midweek game at UNC-Greensboro. ECU then
returns home for a Conference USA opening series with Marshall for the
After eleven games it’s apparent that the Pirates can pitch with anyone
in the nation. If the bats come around, the Pirates will certainly hit
some of their preseason goals.
Those bats hold the key to the 2014 season.