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Pirates to battle the Wolfpack

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — If recent history is any indication, tonight’s baseball game between the No. 24 East Carolina Pirates and N.C. State Wolfpack will be a close one.
The teams, who will begin play at 6 p.m. at Clark-LeClair Stadium, have been involved in one-run games in the last five meetings. N.C. State has won the last three, including 3-2 and 5-4 (10 innings) contests last year.
ECU (18-7, 3-3 C-USA) posted its last win over the Wolfpack (15-9, 5-6 ACC) on April 12, 2006, taking a 2-1 win in 13 innings at home.
N.C. State holds a 60-36 lead in the series, including a 7-3 mark over the last 10 games.
Along with tight games, the Pirates and Wolfpack also bring out large crowds. A Clark-LeClair Stadium record 5,523 fans showed up March 3, 2007, to watch ECU and N.C. State clash during the Keith LeClair Classic.
A year earlier, a total of 5,041 fans attended the April 12, 2006, battle between the instate rivals.
Freshman Sthil Sowers (2-1, 5.55 ERA) will likely get the start tonight for the Pirates. In four starts this season, Sowers has fanned 19 and walked 12 in 24 1/3 innings of work.
Sowers will face a Wolfpack team that is hitting .272 with 17 home runs. Matt Payne leads N.C. State with a .367 average and 18 RBI.
Other top hitters for N.C. State are Jeremy Synan (.311), Pat Ferguson (.310), Marcus Jones (.309, three homers, 16 RBI), Russell Wilson (.294), Nick Stanley (.281) and Dallas Poulk (.279). Ryan Pond, who is hitting .211, leads the club with four homers.
Eryk McConnell (2-1, 4.62 ERA) will start for the Wolfpack. The senior right-hander, who will be making his sixth start, has struck out 12 and walked 10 in 25 1/3 innings.
N.C. State closer Jimmy Gillheeney has been solid in his nine appearances. The sophomore southpaw, who has six saves and a 0.59 ERA, has fanned 20 batters in 15 1/3 innings.
The Pirates, winners of two straight, enter the game with a .327 team batting average and 37 home runs. Harrison Eldridge leads the club with a .388 average and 20 stolen bases.
Ryan Wood, who is hitting .347 with 28 RBI, leads the Pirates with eight home runs. Corey Kemp (.366, 26 RBI), Brandon Henderson (.363, 24 RBI) and Kyle Roller (.280, 23 RBI) have all clubbed six dingers.
Other top hitters for ECU are Stephen Batts (.378, four homers, 30 RBI), Drew Schieber (.372), Dustin Harrington (.338), Trent Whitehead (.333) and Jamie Ray (.286).
The Pirates will also be home Wednesday when they battle the Campbell Camels for the second time this year. ECU took an 11-3 win at home in the first meeting.
East Carolina will return to conference action this weekend when they play a three-game series at Southern Miss.
C-USA Standings
Team Conf. Overall
Southern Miss 4-2 17-8
Rice 4-2 19-9
Tulane 2-1 18-8
Houston 2-1 16-10
East Carolina 3-3 18-7
Marshall 3-3 12-12
Memphis 3-3 11-15
UCF 2-4 22-6
UAB 1-5 9-15