Pirates take on Campbell this afternoonPublished 11:17am Tuesday, February 18, 2014
By Michael Prunka
East Carolina (2-1) is looking to build off of this weekend’s series win over James Madison when Campbell (3-0) visits Greenville.
Campbell, coming off a sweep in first series against LaSalle this past weekend, also hopes to build more momentum. Between Saturday’s game and Sunday’s double-header, they outscored LaSalle by a 28-12 margin.
Freshman Danny Pardo led the offensive effort, going 9-for-12 at the dish, while scoring four runs and an RBI. He also showed plenty of aggression with four stolen bases.
Among Campbell’s returning players is senior third baseman Elijah Trail. Last season, he finished with a 39 runs, nine of which were homeruns, and 51 RBI. He’s among three of the positional starters Campbell has from last season’s squad.
“Campbell’s a good club,” said head coach Billy Godwin. “They’re coming off 49 wins and a team that beat us twice last year. I hope our guys are ready for that because they’re going to come in here and they’re going to play hard.”
The Pirates, on the other hand, lost two of their best hitters from the last time they met the Camels. Chase McDonald led the team in homeruns (11) and RBI while Jack Reinheimer notched 60 hits, 32 runs and batted in another 21 teammates.
The team will be looking to newcomer Ian Townsend to fill their shoes. Townsend, who bats cleanup, was the driving force behind ECU’s four-run inning that allowed the Pirates to capture a 6-5 win in its season opener. In that inning, he hit a three-run homer to right field that accounted for half the team’s runs that game. His hitting will be an important factor in keeping up with a team as offensively potent as Campbell.
Lead-off hitter Garrett Brooks is an older face the Diamond Bucs hope will make an impact on offense.
“We’ve always had an offense here,” said Brooks. “We practice every day on hitting. With the hitters we have on this ball club, there’s no reason we shouldn’t put up six runs a game or six hits a game. We’ve got a great hitting club.”
Brooks will also help the aforementioned aggression that Campbell players like Elijah Trail bring to the table. He combined with Zach Houchins for three stolen bases in Sunday’s 5-2 win against JMU. Brooks noticed the lack of mobility in the opposition’s catcher and took advantage of it. It’s that kind of decision making that will be vital against Campbell.
For the Pirates, freshman Davis Kirkpatrick will be making his first collegiate start on the mound. He comes in with a lot of promise, though. He finished his senior season at Greenville high school D.H. Conley with a 13-1 record and an impressive 0.55 ERA. In 88.1 innings pitched, he fanned 154 players even had a pair of no hitters.
With such an impressive staff in the bullpen, some of the pressure is lifted off Kirkpatrick’s shoulders. Even with Ryan Williams likely taking the night off after pitching 6.1 innings between Friday and Sunday, he still has Brett Mabry, Nick Durazo, Jacob Wolfe and Luke Bolka waiting to come in for relief if and when needed.
First pitch for today’s game is scheduled for 4 p.m. Follow the action from Clark-LeClair Stadium on the Pirates IMG Network.