After the announcement was made that Sunday’s game was cancelled due to inclement weather, the ECU baseball team watched as the No. 25 Virginia Cavaliers left Clark-LeClair Stadium Saturday evening with a perfect 2-0 record.
What was worse was that UVA won in a convincing fashion, with a 14-4 win on opening day followed by a 13-9 victory. The Pirates (0-2) led 4-0 in game two, and then gave up 13 unanswered runs before scoring five runs in the bottom of the ninth.
This may be one of the first times ever that a frigid storm didn’t put a damper on things. For ECU’s young team, and Pirate Nation, it actually may have helped. The Pirates showed improvement from game one to game two, and a digression in game three would have been a big moral killer.
But without game three, Head Coach Billy Godwin can take what his team was dealt and put some pieces together. Ending the two-game series with a five-run ninth inning ended the weekend with some energy. Albeit ending with a win would be better, but now at least the team has an extra day to rest, get over the poor start, and attack the rest of the schedule.
Against Virginia, the Pirates did well at the plate. Of the eight batters with seven at bats or more, two finished with a .500 batting average or above and all but one finished with at least a .250 average. Chase McDonald provided power at the plate with four hits, three RBIs, two runs scored, a double and a .556 on-base percentage.
ECU’s Jack Reinheimer, a mainstay for the past two seasons, led by example. Reinheimer finished the weekend with a .444 average and four hits, two RBIs and a home run. Another team leader, Jay Cannon, didn’t put up extremely impressive numbers but played good baseball (.250 AVG, two hits, two runs scored). Catcher Sam King did well in limited at bats.
Batter to watch: Bryan Bass- .571 AVG on 7 attempts, 4 hits, 2 runs, 2 RBIs and a .667 OBP
The Pirates main problem was their pitching unit. Five pitchers gave up four runs or more, and three of them did so in less than two innings of work. There were eight hit batters and 17 walks in two games. ECU’s Jake Harris was the only pitcher, out of the ten who made an appearance against UVA, to not hit or walk a batter. Harris pitched for less than an inning.
ECU failed to find consistency as the games progressed. The team would start strong, and then falter in the later innings. In the combined two games, ECU was outscored 11-0 in the seventh inning alone.
But the Pirates starting pitchers did show some bright spots. Saturday starter and junior college transfer Ryan Williams (six innings pitched, four runs- three earned, two strikeouts) put in a solid effort in his debut in Clark-LeClair Stadium. Opening Day starter Jeff Hoffmann had a poor first inning, but settled in and threw seven strikouts in 4.2 innings.
Pitcher to watch: Brett Mabry- two innings pitched, one hit and one strikeout as a closer in game one
The Pirates opening series reinforced some of Pirate Nation’s offseason assumptions about the team. The team will perform well on offense, with plenty of players putting the bat to the ball. But still, a pitcher needs to step up and take control of this unit. It is still unbelievably early in the 2013 season and we still haven’t even seen ECU’s midweek rotation.
It isn’t time to panic just yet. Like the snow fall this weekend, this storm too will pass.