Pirates to battle Hawks in home opener

Published 9:28 am Friday, February 29, 2008

By Staff
By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — The bus ride back to Greenville on Wednesday following a 9-6 loss at Elon was a quiet one for the East Carolina baseball team.
The Pirates (1-3) will look to make some noise and end a two-game slide when they play host to Monmouth (N.J.) in the home opener this weekend. ECU and the Hawks, who will be playing their season opener, play at 5 p.m. today at Clark-LeClair Stadium. The two teams will also meet at 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
Monmouth, 36-24 a year ago, was picked to repeat as Northeast Conference champions. The Hawks, who set a school record with the 36 victories, return 22 lettermen. Head coach Dean Ehehalt, in his 15th season at Monmouth, led the Hawks to their third NCAA Regional appearance last season.
T.J. Hose (0-1, 60.75 ERA) will get the starting nod for ECU in today’s series opener. The Hawks will send out Brad Brach.
ECU freshman Seth Maness (0-0, 4.50) will start Saturday for the Pirates, while sophomore Ryan Buch will start for Monmouth.
Justin Bristow (0-0, 3.60) will take the hill for ECU in Sunday’s series finale. The Hawks will send out senior lefty Matt Marc-Aurele.
Brach, last year’s NEC Pitcher of the Year, Buch, the 2007 NEC Rookie of the Year, and Andy Meyers, an all-conference first-team selection, will look to lead the Hawks in 2008.
Brach, Monmouth’s all-time win leader (21), went 9-3 with a 2.89 ERA last year. The 6-4, 210-pound right-handed senior struck out 84 batters in 99 2/3 innings.
Buch, a sophomore, was 9-2 with a 2.44 ERA in 2007. The 6-3, 195-pound right-hander fanned 76 batters in 81 innings of work.
Meyers led Monmouth with nine home runs, 65 RBI and a .395 batting average. The senior first baseman is on the Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Award Watch List.
Other key returning players are senior infielder Kyle Higgins, who hit .344 with 38 RBI, junior infielder Chris Collazo (.318, 33 RBI) and senior outfielder Shawn Teters (.306, 29 RBI).
The Pirates enter the series hitting .286 as a team. Catcher Corey Kemp leads ECU with a .385 batting average.
Other top hitters for the Pirates are Jamie Ray (.375), Harrison Eldridge (.353) and Brandon Henderson (.313).
Ryan Wood (.235) leads ECU with two home runs and six RBI. Henderson has driven in five runs, while Ray and Kyle Roller (.278) have four RBI apiece.
ECU freshman outfielder Trent Whitehead, a former standout at Washington High School, will be making his home debut with the Pirates. He has appeared in all four of ECU’s games, mainly as a late defensive replacement.
Whitehead, who has not had any chances in the outfield yet, is 0-for-1 with one run scored.