Pirates Prepare for First Road Trip
by Josh Spence

The East Carolina baseball team is now getting ready for the next phase of the 2006 season, road trips.  The Pirates started the season with 15 home games before heading on the road to take on 2004 National Champion Cal State Fullerton.  It happened quickly, but the Pirates have only a game against North Carolina A & T on Wednesday before hitting the road for the first time.

The only question now is, are the Pirates ready?  At 11-3 the Pirates have started the season on a very positive note.  The team has won all three season series (Maryland, Col. of Charleston, and Stony Brook) and took two of three in the Keith LeClair Classic.  Currently the Pirates sit as Conference USA’s top run producer with 100 on the year, and also have allowed the leagues fewest runs, 41.  ECU also possesses the leagues best team ERA at 2.18.  Not too bad considering the competition in Conference USA.  Amongst other national powers the league includes Rice, the 2003 National Champion that just took 2 out of games against Fullerton last weekend. 


The Pirates have relied on solid pitching early in the year, with the three weekend starters dominating on the mound so far, in addition to stellar relief from the bullpen.  However, as evidenced by the league leading 100 runs, the team has been able to score when necessary.  Leading the team offensively has been Jake Smith who has put the team on his back over the last two weeks.  The Pirates senior catcher has totaled 21 RBI, 4HR, and 15 hits in the last two weeks alone, helping the Pirates to 7 wins in 8 games. 


For the Pirates to continue to be successful, pitching and hitting will have to continue even when the competition gets better.  Another obstacle the team will have to overcome is youth.  The Pirates are regularly starting two freshmen in the lineup, and at least three others are seeing solid playing time.  Add to that two regular starters that are junior college transfers who will see their first division one road action this weekend against a team ranked in the top ten in the country. 


The Pirates have started 2006 in the right direction, but it’s early and there is still a long way to go.  Suffice it to say this team still has a lot of questions to answer.  Certainly we will know more after this weekend as the Pirates travel to take on perennial power Cal-State Fullerton.  All the games can be heard on Pirate Radio 1250 & 930 this season.  Malcolm Gray, with ECU baseball media relations, will join me in the booth this weekend as we travel to California.

Josh Spence