East Carolina travels to Tulane for critical CUSA series
Pirates eyeing third place finish as they head to New Orleans
The Pirates have never taken a regular season series from the Green Wave on the diamond, but that’s the challenge awaiting Billy Godwin’s club this weekend in the Big Easy.
East Carolina (34-18, 11-10) is just 9-21 all-time against Tulane—including a 3-9 mark in New Orleans, but it will need to reverse those fortunes in order to have a chance to secure third-place in the CUSA standings. ECU and Houston have identical 11-10 records, but the Pirates do hold the tiebreaker after taking two of three from the Cougars. Thus, they will need Memphis to beat visiting Houston at least once if they don’t sweep the Green Wave. If ECU drops the series, then the Pirates’ seeding could significantly plummet.
While ECU has had its struggles with the bats—particularly with runners in scoring position, the Pirates do rank fourth in CUSA with their .297 mark at the plate. However, they are hitting just .270 within the league and average less 4.5 runs versus CUSA foes. ECU has scored three runs or less in 11 of its 21 league games to date.
While their run production has been inconsistent, the Pirates’ pitching has been much more dependable. All three starters possess ERA’s of 3.06 or less and the team’s ERA of 2.60 ranks ninth nationally. Opponents are hitting just .237 against ECU.
Mike Wright, the top man in the rotation, is 5-3 with a 3.06 ERA—the highest of the weekend starters. 2010 CUSA Pitcher of the Year Seth Maness (7-3, 2.22) has seen action in all three weekend roles. Lefty Kevin Brandt (6-3, 2.36) has limited opponents to 62 hits in 76 1/3 innings.
The Pirates have demonstrated improvement with the glove and have a solid .970 fielding percentage.
Tulane (30-21, 10-11) has won its last three and four of its last five CUSA series since getting swept at home by Houston. The Green Wave are hitting .261 and have a team ERA of 4.29—however, it is just 6.14 within the league.
Offensively, Chris Schaffer is the hands down leader. Schaffer, who is batting a team-high .365, also tops the Green Wave in doubles (23), homers (6), and RBI (37). He is the only Tulane player batting over .300. Nick Schneeberger, who is hitting .295, is the next closest.
Nick Boullosa leads the team with 18 stolen bases and will need to be held in check by Pirate pitchers and catcher Zach Wright.
David Napoli, who has been used primarily as a reliever, will get the starting nod in the series opener. Opponents are hitting just .245 against him in 44 innings. Tulane’s number two starter Conrad Flynn is just 3-5, but possesses a solid 3.67 ERA in 83 1/3 innings of work. Alex Byo will start the series finale’.
Green Wave stopper Nick Pepitone has recorded 14 saves this season.
The series will get underway at 7:30 p.m. (EST) on Thursday night. Game two will also start at 7:30 before the series concludes at 2:00 on Saturday.