In simplified terms, little went
right for East Carolina against All-American Danny Hultzen in
the opening game of the baseball series at Virginia last
weekend. The Pirates contributed to their own demise in the
second game and ECU got the better of the Cavaliers in the final
game in Charlottesville.
The Pirates got big offensive production from catcher Zach
Wright in topping Campbell 7-4 on Tuesday night.
ECU coach Billy Godwin and his
staff are watching, evaluating and tweaking as the Pirates go
into a home series this weekend with Pepperdine. Games are
scheduled for 5 p.m. today, 2 p.m. on Saturday and noon on
"I think it was three different
deals," Godwin said of the series at Virginia. "Friday night,
the Hultzen kid — you go into a game against an arm like that,
you have to do everything you can to win it 1-0, 2-1 or, if you
have an offensive explosion, maybe 3-2. That wasn't the case
because we didn't play defense."
Five ECU errors contributed to
seven unearned runs for UVa in ECU's
first loss of the season.
"I thought the game sped up on
some of our young guys, but (Hulzen) was certainly dominant, as
good as any college pitcher I've ever seen in my tenure here,"
Hulzen had 15 strikeouts and no
walks in seven innings. He was 3-for-4 at the plate with three
RBIs in a 10-1 win.
edged the Pirates 4-3 on
"We made a costly error and we
kind of botched a first and third situation and allowed them to
score," Godwin said of the middle matchup at Virginia. "We
played and competed. Zach Woods threw well and we got a good
effort out of our bullpen."
ECU scored four runs in the
second inning of the Sunday game and
beat the Cavaliers 4-3.
Mike Ussery had a three-run double in the decisive frame and
Mike Wright held Virginia without a hit until the sixth inning.
"Michael Wright did an
outstanding job," Godwin said. "We did some really good things.
We didn't beat ourselves. We held them off which I thought was
good. Zach Wright pretty much won the game for us. He threw two
guys out, one in the eighth and one in the ninth, which I
thought was huge."
The Pirate catcher was
struggling at the plate to a degree going into the Campbell
game. He was 4-for-21 on the season but had a run-scoring double
and a grand slam against the Camels.
"He was scuffling a little bit
but (has) been a model of grinding," Godwin said. "He's kept his
head up. He's kept working. He was struggling at Virginia. He
got down a bunt for us when we needed him to. He stayed in the
game and that's so important at the catching position. You can't
take your at-bats to the field and he showed great leadership in
"He's put the time in. He's
working. We know he's going to hit and, hopefully, this is the
beginning of good things for him starting with what he did
Shawn Armstrong settled in
after a shaky start against the Camels to pitch effectively for
"It was good to get him out
there and get some pitches under his belt, some innings under
his belt," Godwin said. "We expect him to only get better from
Pepperdine returns trip
East Carolina lost its first
two games with Pepperdine on the West Coast last season before
Seth Maness pitched
a win in the third game of the series.
Maness will start this afternoon for ECU.
The Waves are 4-4 with a sweep
of Eastern Kentucky and a 9-6 win at home over Cal-Santa Barbara
on Tuesday. Pepperdine lost to UCLA and was swept by Fresno
The Waves have a .258 team
batting average and a staff earned run average of 4.76.
"They've got a great program, a
great coach, Steve Rodriguez," Godwin said. "He was on that
national championship team."
Rodriguez was on Pepperdine's
College World Series title team in 1992 and is in his eighth
season as head coach of the Waves.
"I think it will be great for
our program and our fans to see a team off the West Coast,
nationally recognized," Godwin said. "It's going to be a good
challenge. They're going to have good players. They're going to
be pretty good on the mound. We've got to start to play at a
level of consistency, hopefully, now that we're starting to get
on a roll here with the weather and midweek games that we can
just play well day in and day out."
Godwin will start Wright on
Saturday and Woods on Sunday.
"The thinking is that Mike
Wright deserves to throw on Saturday," Godwin said. "We're just
moving him up a day — not that Zach (Woods) has done anything
bad. When you make moves, it means guys are getting better and
better. The key on the weekends is to have three guys who can go
out there and get you wins. I think we're certainly in position
to have that."
The Pirates have made tweaks
among position players as well. Freshman Jack Reinheimer came
out of the lineup after three errors in the first two games at
"We're playing some older guys
in the middle," Godwin said. "They've given us some experience
and we seem to play better defense. Those young guys are going
to be key components, talking about (Drew) Reynolds and
Reinheimer. They've got their feet wet so to speak. They're
going to be back out there because they're good players, but
right now I'm just looking at it as who gives us the best chance
to win today.
"We've got 12 or 13 options.
I've played Reynolds, Reinheimer, Ussery, (Timmy) Younger,
(Corey) Thompson and (John) Wooten — all in the infield, in and
out, in different roles," Godwin said. "I've played four
outfielders with (Philip) Clark, (Trent) Whitehead, the (Ben)
Fultz kid is a freshman who has come on and played well for us.
He's more of a platoon guy right now where he'll get time
against right-handed pitching, and (Chris) Gosik.
"I have a lot of options
because we're starting to get guys healthy. When we started the
season, I kind of forecasted that. We had guys like Gosik had a
hamstring injury. Ussery was nursing an arm injury. Now that
they're starting to get back healthy, we're starting to get some
"I think it's just whoever's
playing the best and we'll continue to do that. Every game, it
will be about matchups and who gives us the best chance to win
on that given day."
Thoughts, numbers on new
The less lively metal bats
mandated by the NCAA have had a subtle effect early in the
"I don't think you're as
fearful of missing in," Godwin said. "We're going to attack in
and pitch in. I don't think you're quite as fearful of that
because of the bat if there is a reason. Like I said and I think
Coach (Dan) Roszel (pitching coach) says it, 'I don't care about
the bat.' I think you've got to pitch in anyhow to be
successful. I think we've got the kind of arms that can do it.'
Godwin said Conference USA had
crunched some numbers on offensive production for this season
compared to the same stage of the 2010 season.
"Runs per game this year are
6.34," said the Pirates coach. "Last year, they were 6.61. Hits
are 9.48 vs. 10.59 (2010). Doubles are more — 1.95 vs. 1.85 last
year. Triples are .38 vs. .24. Home runs are down .55 (2011) to
.90 (2010). Home runs are down about 40 percent, which is about
what I said I thought it would be.
"I don't think you're seeing
the game change as far as the runs scored. You may not be seeing
quite as much long ball production which I think is what we all
kind of predicted."