Five games in five days over 5,000 miles is quite the challenge.
East Carolina baseball not only accepted the challenge, they Pirates thrived through it and thus continued to rise in the national rankings.
There are six organizations that rank college baseball teams. After taking two out of three from the University of Washington, the Pirates have cracked the top 10.
ECU is ranked as high as 7th by D1baseball. ECU jumped five spots in that poll from number 12. The Pirates are ranked 8th this week by Baseball America, up from 11th. ECU is now 9th in the USA Today Coaches Poll, up from 13th. The Pirates moved up one notch from 17th to 16th by Perfect Game. Collegiate Baseball dropped ECU one spot from 18th to 19th. The Pirates moved up to 11th in the National College Baseball Writers poll, up from 14th.
As I’ve said on numerous occasions, there are too many sets of college baseball rankings.
The biggest number for East Carolina is the Ratings Percentage Index, or RPI. That number also cracked the top ten at number 9 this week.
Chris Holba and Tyler Smith continue to bolster the Pirate pitching staff. Holba set the tone for the weekend by getting the win on Friday night. Smith nailed down the series clincher, allowing a single run on three hits in seven innings.
“Today started on the mound with Tyler Smith as he was outstanding,” Pirate head coach Cliff Godwin said to the media after Saturday’s game in Seattle. “In his first couple of innings it was pouring down rain and he had to manage through pitching on a muddy mound and did a great job.”
The Pirate bullpen continued to be another real bright spot for this team. Ryan Ross picked up his team leading fourth save in Friday’s first game. He also relieved Saturday in a critical spot late in game three.
“Ryan Ross was big for us coming in with the bases loaded, no outs and only give up one run,” said Godwin. “When you only give up one run with the bases loaded and less than two outs, it’s a good thing for sure.”
Former D.H. Conley standout Bryant Packard was the offensive star in the finale. Packard belted out a couple of home runs from the lead-off spot and made things more comfortable for the Pirate pitchers.
“Offensively Packard got us going with a three-run homer in the fifth, which allowed Tyler to settle down on the bump,” said Godwin. “We kept adding on with Henrickson’s two-out RBI in the sixth and Packard’s second home run with Washer’s two-run homer in the eighth.”
Godwin wrapped up the weekend with this: “These guys are tough, battled their butts off and don’t make excuses. I’m really proud of them.”
The Pirates had planned all along to use Sunday as a travel day. The squad then had Monday off. Next up is Elon on the road on Wednesday, and then a huge home series in the American with South Florida.
The question for Monday centered on the travel. Would the long trip work against this Pirate team this week? Godwin doesn’t think so. He likes this team’s work ethic and attitude so far.
“I’m just really proud of them,” Godwin said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to Seattle but I think we had a great experience. I think we all liked the Pike Place Market. I’d seen it on television, but in person it was really something.”
It doesn’t get any easier this week, with the Bulls coming to town. Every team in the American has a winning record with the exception of Tulane and Memphis.
The Pirates have it rolling.
Fans need to pack Clark-LeClair this weekend to show their appreciation.