ARTICLE OF THE DAY

Pirate Baseball Status Report
by Josh Spence
2/21/06

After two full weekends of Pirate baseball, I’m still not sure just how good this team is.  With a 4-2 record the team, has already seen some ups and downs, but taking two out of three in the team's first two series under head coach Billy Godwin is a very good sign. 

 

The strength of the team thus far has been pitching.  T.J. Hose has been strong in his two starts.  The Pirates ace boasts a 0.75 ERA, allowing only 12 hits and 1 earned run in 12 innings pitched, with 14 strikeouts and 1 walk.  Dustin Sasser has also been impressive in his 2 appearances.  Sasser also has a 0.75 ERA, after 2 starts pitching a total of 12 innings allowing 13 hits but only 1 earned run.  Sasser, unfortunately, received the loss in the Pirates only defeat against Maryland, despite scattering 5 hits over 7 innings and allowing only 1 unearned run.  The Pirates other starter, Shane Matthews, has also pitched well despite numbers not quite as good as the other starters. 


Out of the bullpen, the Pirates still have five guys with an ERA of 0.00.  Carter Harrell, Kevin Rhodes, Scott Andrews, Jason Neitz and Josh Dowdy have thrown a combined 17 innings and have not allowed a single earned run between them.  Josh Dowdy is the only one amongst the group that has allowed any runs, 2 unearned, which followed an error in the ninth inning of the Pirates' loss to the College of Charleston last Sunday. 

 

In the field, the Pirates have been pretty good, although there have been some mistakes.  Team fielding percentage is at .954, or around 95%, as the Pirates have combined for 11 errors in 6 games.  Fortunately, many of these mistakes have not hurt the team, as solid pitching has gotten them out of some tough spots. 

 
Pirate outfielders have been perfect in the field thus far, and that seems to be another bright spot for this team.  Highlighting the list of pleasant surprises has to be Stehpen Batts.  Brought to East Carolina as a scholarship goalie on the soccer team, Batts, out of Wilmington, walked on to the baseball team and was redshirted in 2005.  Batts has settled in as the Pirates' left-fielder and currently leads the team in batting average (.400), RBI (6), doubles (2), and hits (8).  Batts also made a tremendous play to start the season.  In the first at bat of the year, a Maryland batter hit a ball deep to left that, had it no been for Batts, would have left Clark LeCLair stadium.

In the final game against the College of Charleston, Pirate fans got a scare when centerfielder Jay Mattox appeared injured after diving for a fly ball.  This is especially painful because Mattox has been a solid performer at the plate thus far as he sits second on the team with a .389 average with 1 HR, and 3 RBI.  However, don’t panic yet Pirate fans.  Behind Mattox on the depth chart is sophomore Jamie Ray.  Ray is also a solid fielder with good speed, and last year had the teams’ second- best batting average as a freshman.  Hopefully Mattox is OK, and no discredit to him whatsoever, but if need be, the Pirates can survive for awhile without him.
 
All told, I think ECU has to be happy with a 4-2 start.  Sure, there have been some mistakes, but overall this seems to be a well-coached, knowledgeable group of players that enjoys playing the game, and playing for each other.  Let’s not forget this team could very easily be undefeated.  The Pirates' only loss to Maryland came in one-run fashion in a game that pitching dominated and could have gone either way.  In addition, had it not been for a five-run ninth inning by the College of Charleston, the Pirates would have won that game, but it seems it was only a matter of time before a team with that kind of firepower got the offense going.

Overall, I am impressed with the start, though I know coach Godwin would agree that there are still improvements to be made.  East Carolina will regroup and will look to get back on the right track when Duke comes to Greenville for the team's first mid-week action on Tuesday afternoon.

Josh Spence
josh@pirateradio1250.com