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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, February 24, 2008

By Brian Bailey

Great start, great week ahead

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

We learned a lot about this 2009 East Carolina baseball team this past weekend. We’re sure to learn a bunch more this weekend.

The Pirates got off to a great start sweeping 2008 NCAA regional participant Monmouth in a three-game series.

The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll took notice, ranking East Carolina No. 23 this week. The Pirates were also pegged at 29th by Ping Baseball, but were not ranked Collegiate Baseball or Baseball America.

The Pirates started the season red hot, posting a five spot on the Hawks in the bottom of the first inning in the season opener. The big blow was a Kyle Roller three-run triple that just missed being a grand slam. East Carolina poured on the offense in the 13-4 win.

That was all that Seth Maness needed in game one. As Coach Billy Godwin put it, “Maness was Maness.”

Seth was certainly as good as advertised in his 2009 debut, scattering five hits over seven innings with one earned run and six strikeouts. He is now 10-2 in his one year and one game career.

Game two featured the debut of Saturday starter Chris Heston. The junior college transfer picked up his first win as a Pirate after working seven innings, allowing two hits, one earned run, and striking out nine with no walks. His stats were most impressive, holding the Hawks' bats to an .095 average (2-21) in the game.

Drew Schieber hit a two-run home run as the Pirates beat Monmouth 5-1.

In game three, the East Carolina hitters came to life late, blowing open a close game behind Stephen Batts. Batts was 9-14 for the weekend. He established a career-high for hits in a game with four in the first game of the series. He then came back and hit that mark again in game three, driving in a pair in the Pirates 9-2 victory.

Batts leads the Pirates with a .643 batting average.

Perhaps most impressive about the sweep was the overall way the team played. This looked more like one of those mid-season series, when you’re fine-tuning everything for league play. East Carolina was in midseason form from the first pitch on that Friday afternoon.

Godwin reflected on Sunday after the series sweep.

“I thought our pitching was good all weekend,” he said. “I thought we played great defense. And today we got timely hits and busted the game open.”

That’s good news, because this week brings with it an NCAA regional type of series. We’ll see four days of East Carolina baseball, with two of those games coming against 12th-ranked Oklahoma State.

The Pirates and Cowboys will play a single game on Thursday, just before the start of the 6th annual Keith LeClair Classic.

Oklahoma State will bring a rich baseball history to Greenville. The 1959 National Champions have made 19 total trips to the College Baseball World Series. The Cowboys also have 30 conference titles in baseball.

East Carolina will open the LeClair Classic against the Red Storm of St. John’s on Friday. The Storm spent this past weekend in Florida playing in the Big East-Big Ten Challenge. St. John’s beat Penn State and Iowa in the event, but lost to Michigan.

The Pirates then meet Oklahoma State again on Saturday in the LeClair Classic before closing things out on Sunday with the College of Charleston.

The Cougars swept a three-game series from Miami of Ohio this past weekend. The College of Charleston will play UNC-Wilmington today at 4 p.m. before heading to Greenville to meet Oklahoma State to open the LeClair Classic on Friday at 1 p.m.

East Carolina will throw sophomore Sthil Sowers against the Cowboys on Thursday night. The Pirates will then use their rotation from this past weekend for the LeClair Classic, with Seth Maness going on Friday against St. John’s.

Chris Heston could match up with Oklahoma State All-American Andrew Oliver on Saturday. Mike Anderson will make the Sunday start against College of Charleston.

It’s certainly an outstanding field for what should be some great early-season baseball.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate. The early forecast is for 60-degree temperatures for Thursday and Friday, with Saturday and Sunday about 10 degrees cooler. There is a chance of scattered showers on both Friday and Saturday. The best chance for rain is late Friday night. Of course, it’s early in the week and we all know that can change.

The LeClair Classic is more then just a great baseball tournament. It reminds us all just what No. 23 means to East Carolina University. And to think, the Pirates are 23rd this week.


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02/24/2009 02:31:19 AM


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