Red-hot Pirates return to conference play

Published 11:27 am Friday, March 27, 2009

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — The No. 19 East Carolina Pirates return to Conference USA play this weekend riding an eight-game winning streak.
The Pirates (18-4, 3-0) head to Marshall (10-12, 2-1) for a three-game series. The teams will play a doubleheader today beginning at 1 p.m. The remainder of the schedule will be determined as the weekend progresses, based upon the weather.
Chris Heston will get the ball for the Pirates in today’s series opener. Heston, 3-0 with a 2.35 ERA, will face a Thundering Herd team that is hitting .272 collectively.
ECU’s Seth Maness (2-0, 5.62 ERA) will square off against Herd right-hander Dan Straily (2-0, 1.88 ERA) in today‘s second game.
Ben Jurevicius leads the Herd with a .380 average to go with two homers and 13 RBIs.
Other top hitters for Marshall are Josh Valle (.300, 2 HRs, 12 RBIs), Victor Gomez (.298, 4 HRs, 20 RBIs), Nate Lape (.275, 6 HRs, 20 RBIs) and Thor Meeks (.266, 5 HRs, 12 RBIs).
Ryan Kiel, a left-hander sporting a 2-1 record and 4.38 ERA, will start today’s game for the Herd.
Junior designated hitter Kyle Roller is hoping the Pirates get off to a hot start.
The Pirates are hitting .381 as a team. Sophomore leadoff batter Trent Whitehead, a former standout at Washington High School, leads the team with 41 hits and is tied for the team-lead with a .427 batting average. He has scored 27 runs and driven in 16 more.
Ryan Wood is also hitting at a .427 clip. The senior has belted three homers and driven in 20 runs.
Other top hitters for the Pirates are Devin Harris (.417, 3 Hrs, 13 RBIs), Stephen Batts (.415, 5 Hrs, 23 RBIs), Kyle Roller (.414, 8 HRs, 35 RBIs), Brandon Henderson (.405, 4 HRs, 27 RBIs), Jared Avchen (.365, 2 HRs, 17 RBIs), Dustin Harrington (.356, 1 HR, 13 RBIs), Drew Schieber (.352, 4 HRs, 25 RBIs), Cam Freeman (.333), Austin Homan (.318) and Zach Wright (.304, 3 HRs, 7 RBIs).
Pirate freshman Kevin Brandt (4-0, 2.35 ERA) will start the third game of the series, while Marshall will throw lefty Greg Williams (0-1, 6.19 ERA).
The Pirates return home for a 6 p.m. non-conference game Tuesday against Elon.