Pirates open baseball season in style

Published 5:18 am Saturday, February 21, 2009

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — Giving All-American pitcher Seth Maness all the support he would need in the first inning, the East Carolina Pirates opened the 2009 baseball season in style.
Kyle Roller drove in five runs with a home run and a triple, while Stephen Batts collected a career-high four hits in Friday’s 13-4 victory over the Monmouth Hawks. The season-opening victory, coming on a sunny, chilly late afternoon at Clark-LeClair Stadium, was ECU’s first since the 2006 campaign.
East Carolina (1-0) collected 14 hits in the win, coming in front of 2,843 fans. Ryan Wood, Drew Schieber and Dustin Harrington had two hits apiece, while Brandon Henderson drove in a pair of runs.
The 13-runs were the most ECU has scored in a season-opener since 1995, when the Pirates topped Coppin State 20-1.
Monmouth (0-1), which took the opening of a three-game series against the Pirates last year, had no answers against Maness. The sophomore right-hander (1-0) scattered five hits over seven innings of work, allowing one run and striking out six in the process.
The Pirates jumped on the Hawks with a five-run first inning. Roller’s bases-loaded clearing triple provided the big blow.
Wood reached on a one-out error, Batts blooped a single and Henderson drew a walk to load the bases. Roller blasted a shot off the fence in right, trucking into third base and quickly making it 3-0. Drew Schieber followed with an RBI-triple, and the senior scooted home on a Devin Harris groundout for a 5-0 lead.
Paul Bottigliero’s solo shot to lead off the second inning got Monmouth on the scoreboard.
An RBI single by Batts and Henderson’s sac fly in the bottom half gave the Pirates a 7-1 advantage.
Roller came up big again in the fifth. The junior designated hitter smacked a two-run homer over the fence in right, highlighting a three-run inning that pushed ECU’s lead to 10-1.
That ended the day for Monmouth starter Kyle Breese (0-1). The lefty gave up 10 runs on nine hits in four innings of work.
Trent Ashcraft drew a bases-loaded walk in the seventh.
Former Washington Pam Pack standout Trent Whitehead was inserted as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning. The sophomore, who made a nice running catch to end the top of the eighth, had an RBI-single in the bottom half to cap the scoring for the Pirates.
Bailey Daniels threw one inning of perfect ball.
Wood closed it out. The senior allowed three runs (none earned) on one hit and three walks.
The teams will meet again at 2 p.m. today. ECU junior Chris Heston (2-5, 5.08 ERA in 2008), a college transfer from Seminole College, and Monmouth junior right-hander Ryan Buch (6-1, 3.66 ERA in 2008) are slated to start on the hill.
ECU junior right-hander Mike Anderson (1-1, 3.00 ERA in 2007) squares off against Monmouth sophomore righty John McDonald (0-0, 6.75 ERA in 2008) in Sunday’s series finale.