ECU looking to regain momentumPublished 11:02am Friday, May 9, 2014
By MICHAEL PRUNKA
For the Washington Daily News
Just a week ago, East Carolina baseball had all the momentum it needed heading into the season’s home stretch. The Pirates had just completed a season sweep of North Carolina for the first time in 20 years with a Conference USA series win against Florida Atlantic sandwiched in there, too.
Fast forward a week and it seems the team has lost a significant amount of confidence. For the first time this season, ECU was swept in Conference USA play. Florida International visited Clark-LeClair Stadium and, over the course of three games, outscored ECU 15-6. Throw in the fact that ace pitcher Jeff Hoffman will miss the remainder of the season due to Tommy John surgery and the Pirates seem to be limping into their final seven games.
“It’s tough any time any of our guys get injured,” said head coach Billy Godwin, “especially to lose our Friday night guy. We all love him. We want him to be out there for us and he wants to be out there for us. It’s part of the game. Somebody else has got to pick up like we have the last two weeks. (We have to) try to pitch in and step up at the right time.”
With Hoffman out, Godwin is forced to make some changes in the rotation. Reid Love, who recently pitched a complete-game shutout against UNC, will step up as the squad’s Friday pitcher. Tyler Bolton will pitch on Saturdays, David Lucroy will pitch on Sunday and Brett Mabry will be coming out of the bullpen.
The pitchers aren’t the only Pirates that will need to step up. ECU had a chance to walk away with a win last weekend in the third game of the series against FIU, but came up short and dropped a 2-1 decision. David Lucroy kept the door open for a comeback by only giving up a pair of runs (both earned) on three hits in eight innings of work.
If the Pirates hope to regain momentum in its final games, they’ll need to provide the pitchers with support at the plate. ECU won four of five games prior to the trio of losses versus FIU. Of those games, four were decided by one run and the fifth was decided by just two.
“It started with our preparation (Wednesday),” said Drew Reynolds, who has proven to be one of the team’s most consistent hitters. “We came out here and we got a good practice in. We tried to improve, we tried to get better. Ultimately, you know you’re only as good as your next pitch or your next swing and your next game. We’re just fighting to improve on some of the things we saw we could improve on this weekend. We look to play our best baseball this weekend.”
As hard as it may be to regain the tremendous amount of momentum ECU had a week ago, the players have been taught that it’s all in the mindset.
“Coach Godwin says it all the time,” said Reynolds. “‘Momentum is nothing but attitude.’ The attitude is something that we can control, so it’s up to us and how we respond and how we go about our business and how we play. We’re going to come out and play as hard as we possibly can and try to win games.”
ECU travels to Hattiesburg, Miss. this weekend for a series with Southern Miss. Afterward, the team heads back to Greenville for its final four games — a midweek game versus High Point and a final league series with UTSA.