to 15-6, calling it a turnaround may be a bit of an
understatement. Over the weekend the ECU baseball team won two
games against Michigan running their total of consecutive wins to nine,
and 13 of the last 14. The Pirates resurgence has been based on
three key factors, pitching, pitching, and pitching.
Avid baseball fans know that a big key to any team’s success is a deep
pitching staff. Scoring runs is important, but the ability to
stop your opponent from consistently doing so may be the single most
important factor in the simple yet complicated game.
In recent weeks the ECU baseball team has shown the ability to score
runs against some of the best pitching college baseball has to
offer. Michigan’s Zach Putnam became the latest ace to go down to
the Pirates over the weekend, but considering some of the guys the
Pirates have beaten recently, Putnam might be proud to be a part of
The way the Pirates are pitching themselves however, some of these
experts may soon be revamping their lists of college baseball’s best
pitchers to include some Pirates. In the Pirate’s recent string
of success with wins in 13 of the team’s last 14 games the Pirates have
allowed no more than five runs in a game. Considering the level
of competition that’s a pretty impressive feat. Five, in fact
seems to be somewhat of a magic number for ECU. When the Pirates
allow more than five runs they are 0-4. When they allow five or
less they are 15-2. When the Pirates themselves score five or
more they are 11-2.
It seems the Pirates have put extra emphasis on retiring the top of
opponent’s orders, and that may be the key to success as generally your
best hitters will bat somewhere between one and four in your
lineup. In three games against then 6th ranked Cal State
Fullerton, Titan batters one through four combined to go 8-43 (.186
avg.) with one RBI, and two runs scored. Pepperdine’s 1-4 batters
went 2-15 (.133 avg), and NC State’s first four went 3-17 (.176).
In addition to focusing on the first four East Carolina has relied on
tremendous depth during the streak. The Pirates have gotten great
efforts out of the starters, and haven’t had to overuse a deep
bullpen. A fact that could pay huge dividends come the conference
schedule. Closer Shane Matthews has been lights out, and the
decision to move him to closer at this point looks brilliant.
Aside from the grand slam he gave up at UCLA, Shane has not allowed a
single earned run, and has converted seven of eight save
opportunities. Matthews appeared in both games against Michigan
over the weekend and faced a total of 14 batters. He struck out 9
and ended up with a save in game one and the win in game two.
Jason Neitz and Brett Butts have been the top arms out of the bullpen,
as each has an ERA below one. In fact in nearly ten innings
pitched, Butts has yet to allow an earned run. There are five
pitchers on the staff that have more strikeouts than they do innings
pitched, and ten different pitchers have a win to their credit.
If the pitching continues this way the Pirates will be hard to beat,
especially if they continue to hit good pitching the way they have
recently. However, I said it before and I will again, this team
has yet to prove that it can win on the road. Despite playing
well the Pirates were swept in three games at nationally ranked UCLA,
their only road games of the year. For a team that won only four
out of 19 road games a year ago, I assure you that is a big