Pirates Singing the Sunday Blues
by Josh Spence

We are now officially three weeks into the 2006 Pirate baseball season.  East Carolina is off to another solid start wining seven of its first ten games.  Ironically all three Pirate losses have come on Sunday.  This season the Pirates are 1-3 in games on Sunday, having played four; two against Maryland after a Saturday rainout, and one in each of the last two weeks.  The Pirates most recent loss came this past Saturday to Virginia Tech, the team that was the consensus selection as the 6th-best team in the Keith LeClair classic last weekend.

So what’s the answer to the Sunday blues?  Coach Godwin suggests the Pirates should quit playing on Sundays all together.  “All three of our losses have come on Sunday, so maybe we need to start playing on Mondays, I don’t know”.  

Obviously that’s not the answer, but what is?  You can’t blame Pirates Sunday starter Shane Matthews.  Although Shane received the loss against Virginia Tech on Sunday it was his first of the year, and Matthews didn’t throw poorly by any means.  Matthews pitched a total of five and a third innings, a season high, and allowed three runs.  Perhaps the only bad pitch he threw was hit over the left field wall by Tech’s Jose Cueto, scoring two runs in the top of the fourth.  It was one of three hits he allowed all day.  Coach Godwin has said since Matthew’s first start that he thinks Shane’s numbers don’t indicate how well he has pitched.  Matthews seems to get better in every appearance and again is not the problem.

Offensively the Pirates have been, pardon the pun, hit or miss.  In two of the Pirates Sunday losses, to Maryland, and Virginia Tech, the team combined to score one run.  The Pirates lost 11-8 on the only other Sunday game against the College of Charleston, and credit the Cougars; they finally displayed the offense many of us were waiting for.  It is offensively the Pirates have struggled, and particularly with left-handed pitching.  

For the Pirate offense seniors Jay Mattox, Jake Smith, and red-shirt freshman Stephen Batts have been carrying the load, all right-handed hitters.  Dale Mollenhauer has also been good for the Pirates, and Adam Witter has scored and been on base as much as anyone as he continues to lead the team in walks.  In spots other guys have stepped up, including Pirate freshmen, but the three previously mentioned right-handers have been the most consistent.  

It seems that on most days the pitching will be good enough to keep the team close, but can the Pirates produce enough runs to stay close?  That will be the question.  The heavy left-handed lineup will need to get better against left-handed pitching for the Pirates to be ultimately successful.

Josh Spence