From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
By Brian Bailey
WNCT-TV 9 Sports Director

Hot pitching rescues cold bats

Stellar mound efforts power Pirates to LeClair Classic sweep

Audio: Brian Bailey Show
The Brian Bailey Show airs on Pirate Radio 1250 on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. This week's topic was the high school basketball regionals with guests Brian Hanks of The Kinston Free Press and West Craven High School girls coach  David Fernandez: Replay show...

Hot pitching rescues cold bats


Pirates defeat Ohio State, 3-2


Herd overtakes ECU with last run


Pirates top Pitt on two-hitter


Pirates win in 10th


Richmond hits parting shots


Audio: Lebo & players post-game...


Christian still setting the pace


By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

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 streak. Three losses to top-ranked Virginia and a midweek shutout loss to Virginia Commonwealth made for a tough week.

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 Western Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Ohio State.

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 innings.

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 season.

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 weekend.

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.


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03/04/2014 01:43 AM