Pirates to take on Green Wave
By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — The quest for the tournament championship begins today.
The East Carolina Pirates open Conference USA Tournament play tonight against the Tulane Green Wave.
The first-round game at Clark-LeClair Stadium will begin at 7:30 p.m.
The Pirates (36-20, 14-9) are the second seed and the Green Wave (32-24, 9-15) the seventh seed.
Tulane took two of three games from ECU during the regular season.
ECU junior T.J. Hose will get the start in tonight’s tournament opener. Hose is 6-5 with a 3.61 ERA. He has fanned 65 and walked 41 in 87 1/3 innings.
Shooter Hunt will start for Tulane. Hunt is 6-5 with a 2.44 ERA. He picked up a victory in the second game of the series against the Pirates.
Hose is familiar with the Green Wave as he pitched a solid game in the series opener against Tulane during the regular season. He didn’t get much offensive support as the Green Wave took a 2-1 victory. Hose allowed two runs on six hits in six innings, striking out three and walking four. Jason Neitz and Brett Butts combined to throw two innings of one-hit relief.
Tulane’s Sean Morgan picked up the win in the series opener, going 6 1/3 innings and yielding just one run on four hits. Morgan struck out 10 and walked six. Daniel Latham pitched 2 1/3 innings of two-hit ball to notch the save.
Warren McFadden had an RBI double and Jared Dyer added an RBI double in the fourth inning to produce Tulane’s two runs.
ECU’s lone run came on Jake Dean’s RBI double in the second.
The Green Wave took an 8-2 win in the second game behind Hunt’s seven-inning pitching performance. Hunt struck out nine in getting the win.
Dustin Sasser suffered the loss, giving up five runs (three earned) on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Corey Kemp homered for the Pirates.
Aja Barto had three hits for Tulane, while Tim Guidry, Brad Emaus and Cat Everett had two apiece.
Ryan Tousley banged out five hits and drove in four runs in the series finale to lead ECU to an 11-7 victory. Kemp, who had two hits, also drove in four. Dale Mollenhauer ripped four hits, while Harrison Eldridge and Ryan Wood banged out two apiece.
Nate Simon, who had two hits, homered for Tulane. The Green Wave also got two hits from Anthony Scelfo and Everett.
Jason Neitz got the win in relief of Josh Dowdy and Shane Mathews.
Latham suffered the loss.
Tousley said it’s important for the Pirates to start the tournament on a winning note.
If the Pirates win, they will play the Southern Miss-UAB winner Thursday at 7:30 p.m. An ECU loss will push them into the loser’s bracket against the Southern Miss-UAB loser at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
The Pirates dropped two of three games from both Southern Miss and UAB during the regular season.
Either Sasser, a junior lefty, or Dowdy, a sophomore right-hander, will likely throw on Thursday.
DEALING WITH A BUG
A handful of Pirates are battling illness this week. Shortstop Ryan Wood, closer Shane Mathews and starting pitcher Dustin Sasser missed Monday’s practice because of illness.
DALE ON THE MEND
Dale Mollenhauer, who is tied for the team-lead with a .329 batting average, fielded grounders during Monday’s practice.
The junior shortstop has been out with a broken bone in his hand. Godwin said Mollenhauer may see some spot duty during the tournament.