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Hose hoping Pirates can “slide” past Western Carolina

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — If T.J. Hose has command of his slider, it could be a long day for the Western Carolina Catamounts.
The East Carolina junior will get the ball for Friday’s NCAA Regional game at Chapel Hill. The Pirates and Catamounts face off at 2 p.m. at Boshamer Stadium.
Hose has used that slider, along with two other quality pitches, to compile a 6-5 record. Hose, who has a 3.59 ERA, has struck out a team-best 70 batters while walking 44 in a team-high 92 2/3 innings of work.
Hose, whose last win came May 4 at Houston, pitched well but didn’t factor in the decision in a 4-2 win over Tulane in the first game of the Conference USA Tournament.
The junior will get the ball in ECU’s biggest game of the season when the Pirates play the Catamounts on Friday.
ECU picked up a 3-2 win over the Catamounts earlier this season during the Keith LeClair Classic. While Josh Dowdy started for the Pirates in that game, Hose was able to watch the Western Carolina batters and knows their preferences.
Hose said it was important for the Pirates to return to regionals after missing out last year, snapping a string of seven straight regional appearances.
ECU coach Billy Godwin feels comfortable throwing Hose in the regional opener.
Hose relishes the opportunity to throw in the regional opener.
Pirates to battle Catamounts
By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — The first step toward Omaha begins today.
The No. 2 seed East Carolina Pirates (39-21) will look to take that step when they face the No. 3 seed Western Carolina Catamounts (40-18) in today’s first game of the NCAA Chapel Hill regional. The game, scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., will be held at the University of North Carolina’s Boshamer Stadium.
The No. 1 seed North Carolina Tar Heels (48-12) and the No. 4 seed Jacksonville Dolphins (34-26) will meet at 6 p.m.
The losers of those two games play Saturday at 1 p.m. and the winners meet at 5 p.m.
Godwin believes his team is well prepared for the regional tournament.
ECU junior T.J. Hose (6-5, 3.59 ERA) will get the start for the Pirates. Hose has fanned 70 and walked 44 in 92 2/3 innings of work.
Western Carolina will counter with Tyler Sexton (8-3, 4.34 ERA). Sexton has struck out 76 and walked 33 in 91 1/3 innings. The junior lefty has thrown two complete games this season, one being a shutout.
The Pirates and Catamounts squared off during the Keith LeClair Classic earlier this year. ECU took a 3-2 win on Brandon Henderson’s two-out RBI double in the bottom of the ninth.
Josh Dowdy held the Catamounts to two runs on three hits over eight innings. Brett Butts pitched a scoreless ninth and earned the win.
Drew Saberhagen allowed two runs and scattered 11 hits over seven innings. Reliever Greg Holland, who leads the Catamounts with 10 saves, suffered the loss after giving up the game-winning hit to Henderson.
Dale Mollenhauer, who scored the game-winning run on Henderson’s hit, had three hits to lead ECU’s offensive attack. Henderson, Eldridge, Stephen Batts and Ryan Wood added two apiece.
David Forbes clobbered a two-run homer for the Pirates.
Steven Strausbaugh had a hit and drove in Western Carolina’s two runs.
While the Pirates would love another crack at the Tar Heels after dropping both games during the regular season, and seven straight overall, the focus today is squarely on the Catamounts.
Batts enters the game with a 26-game hitting streak, the second longest in school history. He has a chance to surpass Steve Sides’ mark, a 28-game streak in 1987.
The Pirates, making their 22nd NCAA appearance and eighth in nine years, are hitting .286 with 64 home runs and 341 RBIs. Mollenhauer leads the team with a .329 average to go with three homers and 26 RBIs.
Other top hitters for ECU are Wood (.317, five homers, 23 RBIs), Batts (.316, five homers, 51 RBIs), Eldridge (.300, six homers, 27 RBIs), Jake Dean (.298), Drew Schieber (.295), Ryan Tousley (.294, 10 homers, 48 RBIs), Jamie Ray (.289) and Kyle Roller (.286, 10 homers, 29 RBIs).
Mollenhauer, who has been inserted as a pinch runner lately, has missed several games because of injury. Godwin said his junior shortstop is getting healthier by the day.
The Catamounts, making their 11th NCAA appearance and first since 2003, are hitting .322 with 81 home runs and 447 RBIs. Kenny Smith, the Southern Conference Player of the Year and Louisville Slugger NCAA Division I All-American second teamer, leads the team with a .396 average, 18 homers, 79 RBIs and 14 stolen bases.
Other top hitters for Western Carolina are Blake Murphy (.377, 15 homers, 63 RBIs), Barrett Shaft (.373, three homers, 29 RBIs), Nick Liles (.343, two homers, 38 RBIs), John Ingram (.330, 11 homers, 61 RBIs), Jonathan Greene (.321, 13 homers, 53 RBIs) and Steven Strausbaugh (.285, 12 homers, 52 RBIs).
TAR HEELS VS. DOLPHINS
The host Tar Heels, a No. 3 national seed, will play the Jacksonville Dolphins at 6 p.m.
Senior Robert Woodard (9-2, 3.29 ERA) will start for the Tar Heels.
Justin Young (5-5, 3.33 ERA) will likely start for the Dolphins.
Both teams are represented by All-Americans. North Carolina has two on its squad. ACC Freshman of the Year, Dustin Ackley, was named to the Louisville Slugger Division I All-American third team. UNC closer Andrew Carignan was also named to the third team.
Jacksonville’s Pete Clifford, the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament MVP, was named to the Louisville Slugger Division I All-American second team.
NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS
The Tar Heels are hitting .320 with 64 home runs and 424 RBIs. Ackley leads the team with a .437 to go with seven homers and 63 RBIs.
Other top hitters for North Carolina are Tim Fedroff (.359, four homers, 33 RBIs), Tim Federowicz (.359, four homers, 58 RBIs), Garrett Gore (.336, two homers, 19 RBIs), Josh Horton (.329, eight homers, 43 RBIs), Reid Fronk (.322, 11 homers, 50 RBIs), Kyle Seager (.309, two homers, 25 RBIs) and Seth Williams (.288, eight homers, 36 RBIs).
Top pitchers are Adam Warren (10-0, 2.09 ERA), Robert Woodard (9-2, 3.29 ERA), Alex White (6-4, 3.35 ERA), Luke Putkonen (7-1, 4.34 ERA) and Carignan (1-1, 13 saves, 1.20 ERA).
JACKSONVILLE DOLPHINS
The Dolphins are hitting .287 with 35 home runs and 335 RBIs. Clifford leads the club with a .359 average, 14 homers and 59 RBIs.
Other top hitters for Jacksonville are Chuck Opachich (.335, 27 RBIs), Ryan McArdle (.326, six homers, 51 RBIs), Mike McCallister (.293, five homers, 46 RBIs) and Brad Simmons (.281, five homers, 20 RBIs).
Top pitchers are Justin Young (5-5, 3.33 ERA), Matt Gardner (7-5, 3.82 ERA), Carson Andrew (3-2, 3.61 ERA), Matt Dobbins (3-2, 3.68 ERA) and Matt Davis (4-1, six saves, 3.12 ERA).
At Boshamer Stadium
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Friday, June 1
Game 1 – East Carolina (39-21) vs. Western Carolina (40-18), 2 p.m.
Game 2 – North Carolina (48-12) vs. Jacksonville (34-26), 6 p.m.
Saturday, June 2
Game 3 – Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 1 p.m.
Game 4 – Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 5 p.m.
Sunday, June 3
Game 5 – Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser, 1 p.m.
Game 6 – Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 5 p.m.
Monday, June 4
Game 7 – Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 1 p.m., if necessary
East Carolina Pirates
Head coach: Billy Godwin
39-21
No. 2 seed
Second in Conference USA
C-USA Tournament runners-up
22nd NCAA appearance
Team batting average: .286
Home runs: 64
RBIs: 341
Team ERA: 3.83
North Carolina Tar Heels
Head coach: Mike Fox
48-12
No. 1 seed
No. 3 national seed
Atlantic Coast Conference champions
22nd NCAA appearance
Sixth straight NCAA appearance.
Made fifth College World Series appearance last year.
Team batting average: .320
Home runs: 64
RBIs: 424
Team ERA: 3.17
Western Carolina Catamounts
Head coach: Todd Raleigh
No. 3 seed
40-18
11th NCAA appearance
Southern Conference co-champions
Beat such teams as Big Ten champion Ohio State, Clemson, Georgia and Georgia Tech
Second at-large bid in school history. First came in 1994 under coach Keith LeClair, who went on to coach the East Carolina Pirates.
Team batting average: .322
Home runs: 81
RBIs: 447
Team ERA: 4.82
Jacksonville Dolpins
Head coach: Terry Alexander
34-26
No. 4 seed
Fourth in Atlantic Sun Conference
Atlantic Sun tournament champions
12th NCAA appearance
Beat Florida and then-No. 1 Florida State during regular season.
Team batting average: .287
Home runs: 35
RBIs: 335
Team ERA: 4.37
Postseason History
NCAA Tournament
NCAA District 3 Playoffs
Lost to North Carolina, 8-0
Beat West Virginia, 6-5
Lost to North Carolina, 13-12
NCAA District 3 Playoffs
Lost to Florida State, 6-3
Lost to North Carolina, 7-3
NCAA District 3 Playoffs
Beat Florida State, 2-1
Lost to N.C. State, 7-5
Lost to Florida State, 3-2
NCAA District 3 Playoffs
Lost to Florida State, 2-0
Lost to Mississippi State, 12-6
NCAA District 3 Playoffs
Lost to Vanderbilt, 2-1
Lost to South Carolina, 5-1
NCAA Atlantic Regional
Columbia, S.C.
Lost to Wake Forest, 6-3
Lost to South Carolina, 4-1
NCAA Northeast Regional
Orono, Maine
Lost to Harvard, 7-3
Lost to Maine, 2-1
NCAA East Regional
Columbia, S.C.
Lost to Old Dominion, 2-1
Beat North Carolina, 1-0
Lost to West Virginia, 4-1
NCAA South Regional
Tallahassee, Fla.
Beat South Alabama, 5-4
Beat Florida State, 7-4
Lost to Miami (Fla.), 6-4
Lost to South Alabama, 18-2
NCAA Atlantic Regional
Tallahassee, Fla.
Lost to Florida State, 10-5
Lost to Central Michigan, 17-9
NCAA East Regional
Gainesville, Fla.
Lost to Florida, 11-6
Lost to Villanova, 10-6
NCAA Atlantic Regional
Miami, Fla.
Beat South Florida, 4-2
Lost to The Citadel, 8-5
Lost to N.C. State, 8-1
NCAA Midwest Regional
Wichita, Kan.
Lost to Wichita State, 10-5
Beat Rider, 6-5
Lost to Ohio State, 6-5
NCAA Atlantic Regional
Atlanta, Ga.
Lost to South Carolina, 6-5
Beat Liberty, 6-0
Lost to Ohio State, 6-2
1999 NCAA Regional
Baton Rouge, La.
* – ECU was No. 1 seed
Beat Southern, 13-2
Beat Louisiana State, 11-10
Lost to Louisiana State, 12-10
Lost to Louisiana State, 9-0
NCAA Regional
Lafayette, La.
* – ECU was No. 1 seed
Beat Marist, 12-3
Lost to Louisiana-Lafayette, 5-3
Beat Marist, 8-7
Lost to Louisiana-Lafayette, 8-5
NCAA Regional
Wilson, N.C.
* – ECU was No. 1 seed and No. 6 national seed
Beat UMBC, 7-0
Beat South Florida, 12-8
Beat Winthrop, 7-3
2001 NCAA Super Regional
Kinston, N.C.
Lost to Tennessee, 13-10
Lost to Tennessee, 6-3
NCAA Regional
Clemson, S.C.
Beat Elon, 13-7
Lost to Clemson, 4-2
Beat Georgia Southern, 7-3
Lost to Clemson, 21-1
NCAA Regional
Atlanta, Ga.
Lost to South Carolina, 4-0
Beat Georgia Tech, 10-3
Lost to Stetson, 9-4
NCAA Regional
Kinston, N.C.
* – ECU was No. 1 seed
Beat Stony Brook, 8-2
Beat UNC-Wilmington, 11-4
Beat UNC-Wilmington, 7-0
NCAA Super Regional
Columbia, S.C.
Lost to South Carolina, 4-2
Lost to South Carolina, 5-3
NCAA Regional
Tempe, Ariz.
Lost to Arizona State, 9-6
Lost to UNLV, 5-3
NAIA Tournament
Beat Grambling State, 9-4
Beat Omaha University, 11-3
Beat Sacramento State, 13-7
* – ECU won National Championship
NAIA District 26 Playoffs
Beat Pembroke State, 7-6
Beat Pembroke State, 6-3
Beat Pfeiffer, 6-5
Beat Pfeiffer, 4-1
NAIA Area 7 Playoffs
Beat Carson-Newman, 1-0
Beat Georgia Southern, 3-0
Lost to Georgia Southern, 11-4
Beat Georgia Southern, 3-2
NAIA National Playoffs
Lost to Grambling State, 5-4
Beat California Wesleyan, 5-0
Beat Mayville State, 3-1
Beat Winona State, 10-2
Lost to Grambling State, 7-5
* – ECU finished third in nation