Pirates to take on Wolfpack

Published 10:12 pm Monday, April 4, 2011

GREENVILLE — Over the weekend East Carolina dropped its second series of the season, and first to a fellow Conference USA team, as it went 1-2 against UAB during their three-game series.

The Pirates (20-7, 3-3) managed to fend off a sweep on Sunday as it rallied back from a 5-4 ninth-inning deficit to take an 8-5 victory. Zach Wright continued his assault on opposing pitchers as he blasted two home runs in the final game against the Blazers, which included a three-run homer in the top of the ninth that lifted the Pirates to victory. Wright finished the game going 3-for-4 with four RBIs.

East Carolina is hoping that Sunday’s thriller will provide momentum for the team as it travels to play in-state rival N.C. State (17-12, 5-7 ACC) tonight at 6 p.m. before heading home to host Elon on Wednesday.

The depth of East Carolina’s pitching staff should face a stiff test this week as the Pirates will play two midweek games before starting a three-game series with perennial C-USA powerhouse Rice this weekend.

Against the Blazers, the Pirates used starters Seth Maness and Michael Wright on Friday and Saturday, respectively, and let long-reliever Brad Mincey fill the void of Sunday starter that was created when Kevin Brandt (2-0, .84) was suspended indefinitely for violating team rules.

Maness (4-2, 2.03) threw all nine innings in Friday’s 4-1 loss, while Wright (4-1, 2.41) tossed six innings as the team fell 5-3. On Sunday, Mincey (4-1, .62) got his first start of the year and allowed four runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings before being pulled.

With those three pitchers not likely to start during the week, possible candidates to start against N.C. State are Zach Woods (1-2, 3.98), Shawn Armstrong (1-0, 3.38) or Austin Chrismon (0-0, 1.35).

N.C. State is coming off of a 2-1 series win over Wake Forest. The Wolfpack pummeled its in-state rival in the series finale as Matt Bergquist went 3-for-5 with six RBIs to lead his team to a 17-5 victory.

Prat Maynard leads N.C. State in hitting with .342 average and is tied for second on the team with two home runs. Brett Williams leads the Wolfpack with three homers and is batting .316, while Andrew Ciencin (.256) has driven in a team-best 21 runs.

Freshman Ben Fultz, who was named the Pirates Hitter of the Week on Monday, leads ECU in hitting with a .350 average, while junior Corey Thompson is second at .313 and freshman Jack Reinheimer is right behind him at .312. Wright, who is batting .305, leads the Pirates in RBIs with 23 and homers with nine.