East Carolina’s Own “Bash Brothers”
by Josh Spence

In 2006 the ECU Baseball team has seen the emergence of its own version of the “Bash Brothers”.  In the late eighties, Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire became a feared one-two punch in the Oakland Athletics lineup, putting up some incredible numbers in leading the A’s to a world series title in 1989.  Now ECU relies on a similar two-man combination in seniors Jake Smith and Adam Witter. 

Most people that follow ECU baseball with any regularity know that Smith and Witter provide a good deal of the power in East Carolina’s lineup.  What you may not know is just how close the two guys are statistically over their careers.  In what appears to be a neck and neck “friendly” battle at first glance, Adam and Jake have abused opposing pitchers hitting a team-best (10) and second-best (9) in home runs.  The team lead has changed hands on several occasions all season, but Witter currently holds the advantage. 

You don’t have to look farther than this season’s stats to find more striking similarities.  On the year, Witter has 53 base hits while Jake has 54.  The two are separated by only a few batting average points. Smith has the decided advantage in runs batted in with 50, but Witter is second on the team with 34. 

The two players’ season stats are close, but it is their career numbers that show the biggest correlation.  In his four years so far, Jake Smith has totaled 43 multi-hit games and 30 multi-RBI games, while Adam Witter has 41 and 25 respectively.  Smith has 168 hits over his career while Witter has 150.

Both Pirates have put up some impressive numbers over their careers, but unfortunately both of their college careers will come to an end in 2006.  “Hopefully I will get the chance to play at the next level and continue my career”, said Smith, a physical education major.  Jake would like to coach high school sports if baseball doesn’t work out.   “If I can’t play I might as well coach or teach what I enjoy doing, but I’d like to play baseball as long as I can.”

Adam would like to keep playing ball as well.  “If I’m given the chance to play more I definitely want to.  I think I can help whoever would want me to play for them.”

Both players look back fondly on their careers together.  “Adam is a great teammate and a good player, and it’s been fun playing with him over the last four years.  You know when you’ve got a guy that swings the bat like he does, it helps you out a lot when you’re (batting) in front of him.” 

“Jake’s a great leader, a great player that does what he has to do to win.  He plays bruised and banged up and he’s caught every game he’s been able to since he’s been here.  A lot of catchers who catch a lot, you see their offensive numbers kind of take a hit, but Jake’s been able to be a great offensive threat even catching as much as he does.”

Although their Pirate careers are coming to an end, they’re not over yet.  The Pirates have eight regular season games remaining, as well as the conference tournament, and both players remain confident the team will play in its eighth consecutive NCAA regional.  But both admit the team still has work to do to get there.  “I think we need at least 35 wins before the tournament, but I know we can pitch with anyone in the conference because we’ve done it, so I feel we have the pitching depth to get to the conference championship and win it”, said Witter.    

Both players have had great careers and will be missed next season, but both were thankful to play for the Pirates and expressed their appreciation for the program and the fans behind it.  ECU will play the first of its final eight regular season games on May 10th against Coastal Carolina.

Josh Spence