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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, March 1, 2010

By Brian Bailey

Lessons learned in reality check against Cavs

Mike Wright
Mike Ussery
(ECU SID images)


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By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

After really struggling in several phases of the series opener on Friday, East Carolina spent the rest of the weekend measuring up to the 10-ranked team in college baseball.

Friday’s 10-1 loss to the Virginia Cavaliers was a disaster.

UVa All-American Danny Hultzen was on his “A” game, both on the mound and at the plate. Hultzen struck out a career-high 15 batters, and drove in three runs. At one point in the game, the lefthander retired 19 straight Pirates.

You can’t afford to make any mistakes against a Top 10 team with one of the best pitchers in the nation on the mound. Unfortunately, the Pirates made several.

After committing just one error last weekend in three games against Youngstown State, the Pirates had five in the opener in Charlottesville, really upsetting Pirate coach Billy Godwin.

“We talk about playing at a high level,” said Godwin. “I know we didn’t come out that way in the opener. It was disappointing to say the very least.”

Games two and three of the series could have gone to either team. The Cavs took Saturday’s game 4-3, while the Pirates battled through and salvaged the third game of the series by the same score.

Godwin knows his team had its chances in the Saturday loss.

“We did, and I think if we can learn from some of the mistakes that we made then I think we’ll have the chance to make our club even better,” said Godwin. “The game just sped up on some of our guys and that’s what it’s going to do when you play a club like Virginia. We are going to look at it as a great opportunity for us. I was really proud of our players for coming through and getting that win on Sunday.”

On Sunday, Mike Wright was in command from the outset. The junior right-hander took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Wright allowed just one earned run on five hits in seven innings.

“Michael was outstanding,” said Godwin. “To go out and do that in that environment and keep his composure and pitch that way against a very good club was a huge shot in the arm for us. It was something we needed and it was outstanding.”

Wright wasn’t the only Pirate hero. Michael Ussery came in as one of the changes Godwin made for Sunday. His two-out, three-run double was the difference maker in the game.

“It was huge,” said Godwin. “Anytime you get a big two-out hit it’s big, but particularly when you’ve lost the first two games. He came up big in his first official at bat as a Pirate.”

List catcher Zach Wright as another of the Pirate stars from Sunday’s win. Wright and fellow Pirate slugger John Wooten continue to struggle at the plate, but Wright was a standout on defense.

“I give Zach Wright a lot of credit,” said Godwin. “I thought he won the game for us on Sunday when he threw out those runners in the 8th and the 9th. He certainly didn’t take his struggles at the plate to the field and that was big.”

Godwin is confident that both of his struggling sluggers, Wright and Wooten, will turn things around offensively soon.

On a side note, I made the trip to Charlottesville this weekend and watched the last two games of the series from the bleachers with many of the Pirate faithful.

I was impressed with the many ECU fans in attendance. It was nice that they were rewarded for their support with the win on Sunday.
Next up for the Pirates is a non-conference match-up with Campbell this afternoon at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

“We are going to go with Shawn Armstrong against Campbell,” said Godwin. “He’s got stuff like Mike Wright and we’ve really wanted to get him some work.”

This weekend, the Pirates will change up the rotation a little bit for the Pepperdine series.

Seth Maness will still get the Friday start. Mike Wright will move into the Saturday slot, while Zach Woods will go on Sunday.

The Pirates start the week at 4-2, knowing that they are a long way from playing their best baseball. It’s a long season and the lineup tinkering will continue.

“We have options,” explained Godwin. “We certainly haven’t given up on anyone that didn’t play well. We can move people around. It’s like I said going into the season, that you could see us have multiple lineups. That’s something we want to do, to show our depth. It’s all about giving ourselves the best chance to win a game.”

That next chance comes today against the Camels.


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Brian Bailey Archives

03/01/2011 05:12 AM


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