TRAVELING PIRATES: ECU hits the road for Tulane
Published 4:52 pm Thursday, April 7, 2016
GREENVILLE — After a three-win week, two in a weekend set against Houston and one midweek win over Elon in extra innings, the East Carolina baseball team will take to the road for a conference matchup with Tulane.
The Green Wave (19-9) has impressive wins on its resume early in the season, highlighted by a pair of wins over Texas in a three-game weekend set in Austin. Tulane knocked off in-state powerhouse LSU in a midweek contest and also boasts a win over Arizona as well. The lone common opponent between the Pirates and Green Wave is Southeastern Louisiana, whom the Green Wave fell to twice while ECU knocked off the Lions in the Keith LeClair Classic in March.
The Green Wave pitching staff is anchored by a pair of brothers, freshman Ross Massey and Alex Massey. Ross, a true freshman, has posted a team-low 1.95 ERA with a 3-2 record in nine appearances. However, the younger brother is coming off of his worst outing of the season in a 9-4 loss against Connecticut. Ross Massey lasted just five innings, allowing seven runs, four earned, off seven hits.
The elder, redshirt senior Alex Massey, is the Green Wave’s third weekend starter and has struggled to get things going this season. Despite his 4.79 ERA, he has posted a 3-2 record. After a short two-game series against UConn, Alex threw an inning of relief against Southeastern Louisiana and struck out each of the three batters he faced.
Emerson Gibbs takes the Saturday starter role and has been off to a strong start in non-conference play. The senior has posted a 2.68 ERA in seven starts and has struck out 41 batters while walking just nine.
Tulane has proven to have a thorough lineup, coupling contact with power in the right places. The Green Wave lead off hitter, Stephen Alemais, has logged an astounding .391 batting average through 19 games and is reaching base at a .463 clip. Grant Witherspoon is the second of three Green Wave batters over .300, with a .340 average. He has also clubbed three home runs on the season. The team-leader in home runs, Hunter Hope, has eight on the season with 21 RBI and a .598 slugging percentage.
In total, Tulane has hit 28 home runs, compared to ECU’s 15.
As has been the case for much of the 2016 season, the Pirate starters will look to give fits to the strong Tulane lineup. All three ECU weekend starters have a sub-2.50 ERA on the season. Friday starter Evan Kruczynski is undefeated in seven starts with a perfect 4-0 record.
An important piece to the weekend set will be which ECU offense shows up. The Pirate bats have been hot-and-cold throughout the season, though now seems to be their time to shine. ECU has posted five or more runs in five of its last seven games and is coming off a seven-run outing against Elon.
Freshman Dwanya Williams-Sutton drove in two runs in the midweek game against Elon and has seemed to find his stride lately. Last week’s hero Eric Tyler continues to ride high after a 2-for-4 outing with two runs scored against the Phoenix. He is hitting .318 on the season with a team-high four home runs and 25 RBI.
The first pitch of the three-game series is set for 7:30 Friday afternoon in New Orleans between Ross Massey and Kruczynski.