No. 20 Pirates ready for first road test

Published 7:41 am Friday, March 6, 2009

By Staff
By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE – After a hot start to the season, where they went 6-1 inside the friendly confines of Clark-LeClair Stadium, the No. 20 East Carolina Pirates hit the road for the first time this season.
The Pirates left Thursday afternoon for Statesboro, Ga., where they will participate in the Holiday Inn Eagle Invitational. ECU will face LeMoyne at 3 p.m. today, Indiana at 6 p.m. Saturday and host Georgia Southern at 3 p.m. Sunday.
“We’re going to have to go down there and play well,” ECU coach Billy Godwin said. “The key is getting the guys as acclimated to that environment as quickly as possible.”
Sophomore outfielder and leadoff batter Trent Whitehead, a former standout with the Washington Pam Pack, said the tournament will be a good test.
“It’s good competition,” said Whitehead, who leads the Pirates with a .520 batting average to go with six RBIs. “We just have to go down there and handle business.”
The Pirates, who have collected double-digit hits in all seven games thus far, are hitting .380 as a team.
Along with Whitehead, who has put together four consecutive multi-hit games, Stephen Batts is hitting an astounding .500 to go with a home run and eight RBIs.
Other top hitters for ECU are Kyle Roller (.444, 1 HR, 8 RBIs), Jared Avchen (.444, 4 RBIs), Ryan Wood (.440, 1 HR, 6 RBIs), Drew Schieber (.429, 2 HRs, 7 RBIs), Brandon Henderson (.393, 2 HRs, 12 RBIs) and Dustin Harrington (.357).
ECU sophomore Seth Maness (1-0, 3.86 ERA) will face LeMoyne in the tournament opener. Jeff Tardiff (1-0, 2.03 ERA), a sophomore right hander, will throw for the Dolphins.
The LeMoyne Dolphins (2-3) are hitting .241 as a team. Sean Paino leads the squad with a .438 batting average. Other top hitters are Brett Botsford (.333) and Matt Marra (.308).
Junior transfer Chris Heston (1-0, 3.65 ERA) gets the start Saturday for the Pirates, while Indiana will throw Eric Arnett (2-0, 1.38 ERA), a junior right hander.
The Indiana Hoosiers (3-4) are hitting .324 collectively. Jerrud Sabourin leads the Hoosiers with a .452 average. Other top hitters include Josh Phegley (.417), Alex Dickerson (.406, 2 HRs, 8 RBIs), Ethan Wilson (.400), Evan Crawford (.333) and Tyler Rogers (.333).
Pirate sophomore Sthil Sowers (1-0, 14.54 ERA) will get the nod Sunday, while Georgia Southern will use freshman right hander, Matt Murray (0-0, 4.09 ERA).
The Georgia Southern Eagles (8-1) are hitting .314 as a team. Kevin Bowles leads the way with a .636 average (7 for 11, 1 HR, 3 RBIs). Other top hitters are Brian Pierce (.391, HR, 9 RBIs), Griffin Benedict (.379), Phillip Porter (.333, 2 HRs, 9 RBIs), Eric Phillips (.308) and A.J. Wirnsberger (.303).
Godwin said the early road trip will benefit his team.
“We always like to take a road trip before we go into conference,” Godwin said. “It gets the guys acclimated to be on the road.”
ECU returns home Tuesday for a two-game series against UNC-Asheville, followed by a three-game series with the UCLA Bruins beginning March 13. It will be part of a nine-game homestand for the Pirates.