No. 19 Pirates to face Campbell

Published 10:47 am Tuesday, March 24, 2009

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — The No. 19 East Carolina Pirates, fresh off a Conference USA series sweep of UCF, will look to build on their six-game winning streak today at Campbell.
The Pirates (16-4, 3-0 C-USA) and Camels (11-9) will meet at 6:30 p.m. in Buies Creek.
It’s the first of five games this week for the Pirates. ECU will welcome UNC-Wilmington into Clark-LeClair Stadium for a 6 p.m. contest Wednesday.
The Pirates will then return to C-USA play with an away series at Marshall. Those games are set for 6 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
The Pirates hold a 51-18 series lead, which includes a three-game sweep last year, over the Camels.
ECU, which has scored 90 runs in its last five games, enters the contest hitting a robust .388 collectively.
Junior Kyle Roller (.390, 7 HRs, 30 RBIs) is one of the hottest of the Pirate hitters. The designated hitter hit .591 (13-for-22) with four home runs and 15 RBIs last week, which helped earn him C-USA Hitter-of-the-Week honors.
Roller banged out five hits, smashed two homers and drove in five in Friday’s C-USA opener against UCF. The slugger helped ECU establish school and conference records for runs scored in consecutive games (52, with 26 each against Norfolk State and UCF), and ECU records for five-game scoring (90) and five-game hitting (98).
Ryan Wood leads the club with a .444 average to go with three homers and 18 RBIs.
Other top hitters are Stephen Batts (.435, 5 HRs, .22 RBIs), Trent Whitehead (.432, 14 RBIs), Brandon Henderson (.412, 4 HRs, 26 RBIs), Jared Avchen (.396, 2 HRs, 17 RBIs), Drew Schieber (.388, 4 HRs, 25 RBIs), Dustin Harrington (.375, 1 HR, 13 RBIs), Devin Harris (.365, 3 HRs, 12 RBIs), Austin Homan (.350, 9 RBIs), Cam Freeman (.333) and Zach Wright (.300, 3 HRs, 7 RBIs).
Sophomore Sthil Sowers (1-2, 11.68 ERA) will likely get the start for the Pirates.
The Camels, who have lost two straight, are hitting .347 as a team. Ryan Hamme (1 HR, 28 RBIs) leads the team with a .455 average.
Other top hitters are Zach Johnson (.450, 5 HRs, 21 RBIs), Josh Holskey (.419, 1 HR, 16 RBIs), Ellis Lowe (.405, 21 RBIs), Kevin Nelson (.403, 1 HR, 10 RBIs) and Alex Aycoth (.339, 20 RBIs).
The Pirates are ranked in three national polls this week. It marks the first time since the 2004 season that ECU has spent at least six consecutive weeks in the national polls.
The Pirates were tabbed No. 19 by the National Baseball Collegiate Writers Association (NCBWA), No. 22 by Baseball America and No. 23 by the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll.
ECU’s appearance in the Baseball America poll is the first since garnering a No. 24 ranking on April 14, 2008.
ECU sweeps series
Sophomore Kevin Brandt tossed 5 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, while Roller hit his third home run of the weekend to help ECU top UCF 10-3 in Sunday’s series finale.
Roller homered and drove in three runs.
Harris broke a 3-all tie in the bottom of the fifth with a solo shot to left field.
Brandt (4-0) allowed just one hit and fanned five.
Starter Mike Anderson was tagged for three runs (all earned) on five hits with a walk and two strikeouts in 2 2/3 inning of work.
UCF jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
Batts knotted the game, 3-3, with his fifth homer of the season, a two-run shot to left field in the third.
ECU broke the game open in the seventh when they plated five runs on four hits to take a 9-3 three lead. Roller highlighted the frame with his seventh homer of the season and 30th of his career, a three-run shot to right field.