Pirates flex their muscles against Rams
By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — Seth Maness continues to mature on the mound.
The East Carolina freshman right-hander, who had plenty of offensive support, notched his third straight win in a 7-2 victory over Rhode Island. His outing on a spectacular spring day in front of 2,816 fans Saturday at Clark-LeClair Stadium helped the Pirates win their 11th straight.
The string of victories matches the team’s eighth-longest in school history. ECU’s record is 19 consecutive wins, which came in 2004.
During ECU’s current 11-game win streak, the Pirates have outscored their opposition 111-49.
The arm of Maness played a big part in ECU’s 11th consecutive victory.
Ryan Wood belted a pair of home runs and Dustin Harrington smashed his first career longball for the Pirates (12-4), who have now won two straight over the Rams (5-7). ECU finished with 11 hits, which included two apiece from Wood, Harrington, Trent Whitehead, Harrison Eldridge and Stephen Batts.
Maness (3-0) scattered four hits and allowed two unearned runs in notching his third straight win.
The 5-11, 168-pound freshman went a career-high eight innings. Maness struck out four and walked one.
The Pirates jumped on Rhode Island starter Eric Smith (0-2) with three runs in the first inning. Wood smashed a solo shot with one out into The Jungle, which extended his hitting streak to 14 straight. Harrington later added a bases loaded, two-run single into center for a 3-0 advantage.
Wood’s second dinger, coming in the fourth, extended ECU’s lead. After Eldridge ripped a two-out double, Wood deposited the ball over the fence in left-center. His team-leading sixth homer of the year gave the Pirates a 5-0 lead.
It was the second multi-home run game of Wood’s career. He also belted a pair of homers May 8 against The Citadel last year.
“I’m feeling all right at the plate,” said Wood, last week’s Conference USA Player of the Week. “(They were both) off curve balls. I don’t think I’ve hit a curve ball hard all year, let alone a home run. It was good.”
The Rams, taking advantage of an ECU error, got on the scoreboard in the fifth. Mike O’Malley reached on a one-out error by first baseman Kyle Roller, who was starting for the injured Brandon Henderson. Henderson sprained his wrist in a collision at the bag during Friday night’s game.
Zach Zaneski tripled into right-center to score O’Malley, then scooted home on Rob Denevey’s ground out to pull the Rams within 5-2.
ECU got one of those runs back in the bottom half. Harrington greeted Ram reliever Chris Pickering, who had replaced Smith (five runs on six hits in five innings), with a blast over the fence in right-center. Harrington’s first career home run gave the Pirates a 6-2 lead.
Kyle Roller’s RBI single in the seventh increased ECU’s lead to 7-2.
Rhode Island looked to rally in the ninth. Reliever Brett Butts allowed two runners to get on base. Seth Simmons came on and closed it out.
Whitehead, a former Washington Pam Pack standout who made his eighth start, went 2-for-4 with a stolen base. The freshman left fielder singled in the sixth to extend his hitting streak to three straight, then added another single in the eighth.
Whitehead, who is 9-for-19 in his last six games to raise his batting average to .370, now has four multi-hit games. He also had four putouts in the outfield.
The teams meet in today’s series finale at 1 p.m. After a home game Tuesday against Elon, the Pirates open Conference USA play with a three-game home series against Houston beginning Friday.
Rhode Island 000 002 000 - 2 4 2
East Carolina 300 201 10x - 7 11 2
WP: Seth Maness (3-0); LP: Eric Smith (0-2)
Hitters: RI - Rob Deveney 2-4 (RBI), Zach Zaneski 1-4 (3B, RBI), Zoey Angulo 1-5; ECU - Ryan Wood 2-5 (2 HR, 3 RBI), Dustin Harrington 2-4 (HR, 3 RBI), Harrison Eldridge 2-4 (2B), Stephen Batts 2-4 (2B), Trent Whitehead 2-4, Kyle Roller 1-2 (RBI).