Carolina's opening day loss to Liberty left plenty of fans and
supporters of the ECU baseball team scratching their heads. Say
it's not true! Not baseball too? However, most of the
questions would be silenced after the Pirates were able to win the
final two games to take the series, silenced at least for now.
Would the real baseball Pirates please stand up?
ECU looked jittery in the opener. The Pirates managed only six
hits in the game, and only one after the fourth inning. TJ Hose's
return to the mound was less than stellar. The Pirates ace
allowed five runs on seven hits and five walks in only three and
two-thirds innings. Not exactly the return he was hoping for
after sitting out much of the end of last season and the summer nursing
a sore throwing arm.
It was a much different Pirate team the rest of the weekend.
Saturday East Carolina seemed ready to use whatever means necessary to
score runs. ECU used sacrifices whenever possible to advance
runners. At one point in the game the Pirates executed a perfect
double steal that set up a run. In watching every game last
season, I don't remember the Pirates pulling that off a single time.
Despite an early deficit ECU went on to win game two 7-4. Game
had the same competitive feel as the first two, until the sixth inning
that is. East Carolina blew it wide open in the sixth scoring
seven runs in the frame, more than they had in the first two games
combined. ECU went on to win 11-2 to take the series.
It's only week two of the season, and we certainly don't want to take
too much from the opening weekend, but here are some good and bad signs
from the Liberty series.
The Pirates are doing whatever it takes to
score runs, and maybe more importantly it's working. The two
left-handed starters (Ostrander, Sasser) were tough going six innings
each in their first appearances. The bullpen has been
excellent. In 11.1 combined innings pitched the bullpen has
allowed just two runs, with 14 strikeouts. Shane Matthews is one
for one as closer; he also came in with a solid effort in game three in
a non-save situation. Drew Schieber hit his first career home run
in his first at bat of the season. ECU scored more runs in each
successive game it played, and Liberty scored less.
Negative signs: The
Pirates need a better effort out of Friday starter
TJ Hose. No secret there and I'm sure Hose knows it more than the
rest of us. The Pirates committed six errors in the series, half
of them by Stephen Batts. They will need to be very good
defensively to win with this schedule. Six errors won't cut it, but
overall I thought the defense was solid. The guys seemed to
struggle to produce anything in the form of offense in game one.
You can call it opening day jitters, but even when the Pirates got into
the Liberty bullpen they could only manage one hit in five
innings. Liberty's number one starter and reliever may be pretty
good, but I assure you they will see better.
Again not much can be taken away after only one weekend of play.
The Pirates true test comes this weekend. East Carolina is on the
road at UCLA which had been ranked as high as # 11 nationally.
That ranking will most certainly drop after the Bruins were swept by
fifth ranked Miami.
Don't let that fool you about the Bruins this year. Being swept
by a top-five team is no disgrace, especially after a one to nothing
loss in game one. UCLA ace pitcher Tyson Brummett has been on
fire pitching 15.2 innings allowing only two runs. Brummett is
now 1-1 after the one run loss to Miami. The Bruins also scored
19 runs in a win over Winthrop the previous weekend.
After they travel to Los Angeles, we'll get a chance to see how the
Pirates will play on the road, how the players respond to the travel,
and not to mention how they respond to playing against a nationally