thought last weekend's series versus Tulane was big, just look at who’s
up next. East Carolina travels south to take on Southern Miss in
another pivotal Conference USA series. The Pirates could only
manage one win against the Green Wave last weekend leaving ECU in a
dead lock with Tulane and Southern Miss for third in the league
standings at 7-8. Recent published reports indicate that three
teams from conference USA will likely be included in the field for the
NCAA tournament. That doesn’t mean teams below third are out, it
just means they have a little work to do.
Despite the series loss the Pirates have won twelve of their last
sixteen, and the Pirates have done it in impressive fashion. ECU
is competing at a more complete level than it has all season long
thanks to a recent surge in offense. In the Pirates thirteen
games since their two-hit shutout loss to UCF, ECU has not recorded
less than seven hits in a game. The Pirates also have scored less
than three runs only once and have scored eight or more in seven of the
This may not seem overly impressive but consider that in the 32 games
before this recent hot streak, ECU had been held to less than three
runs seven times including five shutouts. The Pirates were also
held to less than seven hits 6 times in those 32 games.
The Pirates are growing up and getting better as a team, and at just
the right time. You can include the Pirates second and third wins
over top 20 programs in the recent streak of twelve victories in
sixteen tries. And up that to three wins if you’re including
Houston, which is now ranked number ten by Collegiate Baseball.
The Pirates win over Tulane last Saturday was the most complete effort
of the season. ECU won 13-3 behind Brody Taylor’s third complete
game of the season. Taylor scattered eight hits, allowing three
runs, while the Pirate offense exploded for a season high four home
runs to go along with a nearly flawless effort defensively.
ECU will need to magnify that effort over three games to have a chance
against Southern Miss this weekend. The Golden Eagles currently
sit as one of four nationally ranked teams in Conference USA with a
record of 31-16 overall, and have won four of their last five since
getting swept at Rice including two over nationally ranked Mississippi
State. The Golden Eagles are the top hitting team in the
conference leading the league with: a .317 batting average, .416 on
base %, 387 runs scored, 522 hits, 347 RBI and 62 home runs.
East Carolina seems to have the edge in pitching and in the
field. The Golden Eagles won two at Marshall last weekend, lost
two to Houston and Memphis, and swept UAB. In the Rice sweep over
USM the Owls held the Golden Eagles to no more than three runs in each
game. That looks good for ECU and its pitching advantage, but we
all know how good Rice pitching is.
ECU has three conference series remaining (at USM, UAB, at Memphis) and
a home and home series with Coastal Carolina. To feel comfortable
I think the Pirates need at least two out of three in every CUSA
series, and cannot lose at home to Coastal, which is only 20-23, but
boasts wins over Wake Forest, College of Charleston, and
Winthrop. If ECU can keep up the improved hitting and regain
dominance on the mound it is possible the Pirates could get on a nice
run heading into the CUSA tournament. For the Pirates the postseason
has to start this weekend.