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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
By Brian Bailey

Witter, Bucs set stage for pivotal final week


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When East Carolina celebrated senior day on Saturday, it was fitting that a senior, Adam Witter, delivered with a pair of home runs.

Witter, from Chambersburg, PA, came back on Sunday and duplicated the feat. He hit two more home runs as the Pirates completed a three-game sweep of Conference USA foe UAB.

It was a sweep that most certainly keeps the squad’s postseason hopes alive.

“This is the time that you really want your team playing well,” said Pirate Coach Billy Godwin after Sunday’s 12-2 win. “We’ve had some weekend series where we didn’t play well on Sunday, so we really wanted to come out with some energy.

"I thought our guys did a good job of getting on top early.”

I asked Witter before Sunday's game if he had two more home runs in him after Saturday’s performance. He smiled and gave me a look like we might see more fireworks. He said he wanted to get this one over early so he could hit the golf course for a quick round.

The Pirates did make quick work of the Blazers in the series finale. The game went just seven innings under the 10-run mercy rule.

Witter probably had time for 27 holes, but the time for diversions will be brief.

“We’ve still got work to do,” said Godwin.

The Pirates head to Coastal Carolina for a single game this evening before heading west to Memphis for the final C-USA series of the season on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Four more wins would put the Pirates at 36 for the season with the C-USA tournament to come. With a win or two in the C-USA event, the Pirates should punch their 8th straight ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

I asked Coach Godwin if this was an NCAA tournament team.

“I think so now,” Godwin said. “We’re swinging the bats well and playing with a lot of confidence. We just have to keep winning. We put ourselves in this position and we’ve just got to keep on winning.”

The Pirates celebrated senior day on Saturday and then Mother’s Day on Sunday. Both days were big for Witter.

On Saturday, Witter and the rest of the seniors were presented commemorative bats and framed pictures. Witter’s shot was a pose after a home run earlier this season. It looked like one of those old pictures of Babe Ruth that you’ve seen. It was a classic shot. It was a shot that we would see four times during the weekend.

“I’m really seeing the ball well,” said Witter. “I got some really good pitches to hit and I was able to put some good swings on them.”

Witter understands that every game — make that every inning — is critical as a bubble team.

“We know just how important every inning is,” said Witter. “We can’t afford to go out there and have a bad stretch. We feel that we need to win them all. This time last week we had eight games to go. Now, it’s down to four and we need to keep winning.”

The Pirates got great outings on the mound from Brody Taylor, Shane Matthews and Dustin Sasser this weekend. Taylor went the distance in his win, while Matthews and Sasser both went deep into their games to rest the bullpen.

Sasser got into trouble in the second inning of Sunday’s win. He walked two and hit a batter to load the bases with nobody out. He then proceeded to strike out the side.

“I was trying to finesse the ball instead of just throwing it in there,” said Sasser. “I finally made an adjustment in my delivery and I was able to get it back and have a good outing.”

Sasser’s three strikeouts in that inning deflated the Blazers, turning what could have been a Sunday shootout into a rout by the Pirates.

“There’s nothing better then to see our guys hitting the ball like they are right now,” Sasser said. “They’re doing the best they’ve done all year. It’s nothing but a confidence boost for a pitcher when you get run support like that.”

Sasser and the pitching staff hope the hot hitting continues. That 8th straight trip to the NCAA tournament hangs in the balance.

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02/23/2007 01:33:44 AM


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