No. 24 Pirates prepare for No. 2 Gamecocks
By By KEVIN TRAVIS,Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — After playing against one another for the past few weeks, the East Carolina baseball team will finally face real competition this weekend.
The No. 24 Pirates open the season at No. 2 South Carolina. ECU and the Gamecocks are scheduled to play at Sarge Frye Field today at 3 p.m., Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
Rain is expected to fall in Columbia, S.C., on Friday. If that happens, the teams will likely play a doubleheader on Saturday or Sunday.
Senior right-hander T.J. Hose, who was 6-5 with a 3.97 ERA last year, will get the starting nod for ECU in today’s opener.
Hose will look to keep the Gamecocks, who hit .301 with 113 home runs last year, off balance.
Seth Maness, a freshman right-hander, will start Saturday for the Pirates.
Justin Bristow, a junior transfer from Auburn, will start the third game of the series.
Godwin said he’s looking for his starters to go as long as they can.
Offensively, the Pirates are led by Stephen Batts. The junior enters the series riding a 29-game hitting streak, the second longest in school history and the third longest among Conference USA batters. Batts had six homers, a team-high 56 RBIs while hit .323 on the year.
Senior center field Harrison Eldridge, named to the C-USA First Team last year, hit .295 to go with six homers, a team-high 19 doubles, a team-best 15 stolen bases and 28 RBIs.
Other key returning players include infielder Ryan Wood (.318, five homers, 23 RBIs), catcher Corey Kemp (.267, five homers, 41 RBIs) and infielder Drew Schieber (.301, six homers, 22 RBIs), who will wear No. 23 this season in honor of former coach Keith LeClair.
Former Washington Pam Pack star Trent Whitehead, a freshman outfielder, will get his first taste of college action for the Pirates.
I just want to help the team win. Whatever it may be, I’ll do it.”
Godwin praised the young outfielder.
The Gamecocks are led by junior infielder Reese Havens, senior catcher Phil Disher and junior pitcher Mike Cisco, who were named captains this season. Another top returning player is Justin Smoak, who hit .315 with 22 homers and 72 RBIs last year.
Havens has started 130 games at shortstop the past two years. Disher hit .328 with 15 homers and 63 RBIs as a junior, while Cisco has recorded 13 wins over the last two years.
Cisco will get the starting nod in today’s game.
Godwin and his players are anxious to get started.