Wednesday, March 31, 2010

No. 23 Pirates seek ninth straight against Seahawks

After one of their more complete outings of the season in an 8-0 shutout victory against in-state rival Elon on Tuesday night, the 23rd ranked Diamond Bucs will host another in-state rival tonight when UNCW visits Clark-LeClair Stadium.

The D-Bucs (17-8), who are riding an eight-game win streak, will start freshman righty Joseph Hughes (1-0, 3.77 era). Hughes, who has appeared in four games, has made mid-week starts versus Gardner Webb and High Point. He has allowed 17 hits in 14.1 innings of work. Opponents are batting .293 against him.

UNCW (13-10), who has already captured mid-week victories over NC State (9-6) and Wake Forest (10-3), is coming off a series win over Towson.

The Seahawks will be sending 6'3, 203, redshirt junior Daniel Cropper to the mound. Cropper (1-1, 3.49) has split time between a starting and relieving role this season. He has started four games and was excellent in his last start at Elon. The Phoenix mustered just a single run on three hits in seven innings off the Maryland native. However, Cropper has allowed two runs and six hits in his last 1.1 innings of action. That work came in relief appearances versus Rhode Island and Towson.

Offensively, UNCW has five regulars hitting .300 or better. Hunter Ridge leads the team with his .378 mark while Grayson Evans tops the team in four different offensive categories: hits (35), runs (23), doubles (9) and total bases (50). Evans is hitting .376 on the year and brings a 16-game hitting streak into tonight's contest. Robbie Monday and Cody Stanley have combined to hit over half of UNCW's home runs, as they have seven and six, respectively.

The Pirates took two of three from UNCW last season and are 9-2 against the Seahawks under fifth year head coach Billy Godwin.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

No. 23 Pirates look to extend win streak to eight against Elon

*Dustin Harrington (pictured above) is hitting a team best .455 after going 12-of-20 last week.

The Diamond Pirates (16-8) take a seven-game win streak into tonight's match-up with in-state rival Elon.

ECU has enjoyed many intense, competitive match-ups with the Southern Conference power in recent seasons and tonight should be more of the same.

The Phoenix (15-9, 5-4) has won five straight and is coming off a perfect week. Elon earned two mid-week victories (15-10, 4-3 in 10 innings) at No. 5 Clemson last week before sweeping at league foe Davidson on the weekend.

Elon will start southpaw Dylan Clark. Clark has struggled in just over seven innings of action this season.

The D-Bucs will counter with hard throwing righty Zach Woods. Woods, who has made nine appearances, has started four games and compiled a 3-1 record and 4.67 ERA. Opponents are hitting .272 against him. He has struck out 34 batters in 27 innings of work.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pirates should extend winning streak to seven against Eagles

After taking mid-week games against High Point (7-5) and North Carolina A&T (15-6), Billy Godwin's club will now host winless NC Central for three games at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

The Eagles (0-19) have given up ten or more runs in all but five games and have surrendered 24 or more runs on seven occasions.

NCCU is hitting just .232 and has a team ERA of 15.56. Opponents are hitting .419.

There may be 70-plus runs scored by the Diamond Pirates this weekend. The team average and home run total should increase substantially. The D-Bucs are currently hitting .315 with 34 HR.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Prime time for Diamond Pirates to get on a roll

After a 7-3 start--which included a 3-3 mark against UVA (17-3, 5-1) and South Carolina (16-4, 3-0), ECU proceeded to lose three straight on the West Coast before taking the last of three games against Pepperdine. Its struggles continued last week when the Pirates' pitching failed them in a 13-12 loss at High Point and a 11-9 series opening defeat to Monmouth.

However, the Diamond Bucs responded like a champion with 11-4 and 16-2 victories that will hopefully spark a much-needed win streak as the mid-point of the season quickly approaches.

After scoring no more than three runs in any of its four games--which were certainly against better pitching--in Southern California, the ECU bats produced a .369 average, 17 home runs and 56 runs in five games last week.

The week saw junior rightfielder Devin Harris' bat come to life. Harris was hitting just .239 after Tuesday's game against Gardner Webb, but is currently hitting .323 after hitting .524 with five home runs, four doubles and 12 RBI for the week.

The Pirates' pitching left much to be desired for much of the week, but finished strong with Seth Maness and Mike Wright delivering solid starts versus Monmouth.

The week will begin with East Carolina being presented an opportunity to avenge last week's loss to High Point. After its re-match with the Panthers, the Pirates will play four "should-win" games when it faces NC A&T (6-10) on Wednesday before welcoming winless NC Central (0-18) for three this weekend. The Eagles are hitting just .231 as a team and have an ERA of over 16. They've already given up 24 or more runs seven times this season.

While it's way too early to press the panic button, the Pirates really need to be 16-8 after this week as they attempt to build their resume' where they can host at season's end.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lookin' like Lebo

It's not official yet, but it looks like recently dismissed Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo will be named the new head men's basketball coach at East Carolina.

Pending the approval of the ECU Board of Trustees, Lebo could be announced as early as Tuesday.

Lebo, 43, compiled a 96-93 record in his six seasons at the helm of the Auburn program. The 2008-2009 season saw his club win 24 games, which was the second highest total in school history.

Prior to Auburn, the former UNC-Chapel Hill guard was the head coach at UT-Chattanooga and Tennessee Tech. He led the Mocs to a 40-20 mark in two seasons while going 75-43 at TTU. In his four seasons at TTU, Lebo won more games each year. His records were: 12-15, 16-12, 20-9 and 27-7 (NIT).

Lebo has a career mark of 211-156 (57.5%) and had also been an assistant at South Carolina ('93-'98), Vandy ('92-'93) and East Tennessee ('90-'92).

While he may not be a popular choice with many Pirate fans due to his alma mater being UNC-CH, the hire allows Terry Holland to bring in a proven winner with NC/Southeast ties that has 12 years of HC experience.

Additionally, his Tar Heel connections could also help with recruiting, scheduling and other aspects of a program that is trying to become a winner.

The Pirates have suffered 13 straight losing seasons and haven't won more than 14 games since 1996-97.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Will East Carolina look at Lutz?

East Carolina AD Terry Holland now has another possible candidate for the Pirates' men's hoops job as intra-state rival Charlotte fired long-time coach Bobby Lutz on Monday.

Lutz, 51, compiled a 218-158 mark (.579) in his 12 seasons guiding his alma mater. He went 19-12 this season, but the 49ers failed to make the postseason after dropping seven of their final eight games. Charlotte went to five NCAA's and posted five 20-win seasons under Lutz.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Will Wright State's Brownell give the Bucs a look?

While initial favorite Joe Dooley may still be in the running to be the next head men's basketball coach at East Carolina despite speculation saying otherwise, another coach that would be an excellent hire for Terry Holland would be Wright State's Brad Brownell.

While Brownell has a pretty good job and grew up in the Midwest, he had a very successful four-year stint at UNCW. He went 83-40 while leading the Seahawks and has gone 83-44 thus far with the Raiders. He has eight years of head coaching experience and is just 41.

Brownell, who has only won less than 19 games once, makes at least $365,000 (base salary) plus any other incentives. However, he may be interested in getting back to the region because he may have never left UNCW had it not been for leadership issues.

With a practice facility in the works and an increased salary supposedly prepared to be offered, Brownell may be a candidate the Pirates could have a legit shot with.