After losing a very winnable game, 4-2, to High Point on Wed., the ECU baseball team (11-10) faces a quick turnaround as it begins a three-game series against the Houston Cougars (18-4) on Friday to open Conference USA play.
Houston is currently receiving votes to be ranked in the USA Today Baseball Top 25 Coaches poll and is on a seven-game winning streak. The Pirates travel to Houston, where the Cougars hold a 12-2 record at home.
On offense Houston has seven batters hitting .300 or better on the year, led by sophomore Michael Pyeatt (.390) who has six RBIs, two doubles and two triples on the year. Caleb Barker leads the Cougars with 24 RBIs and three home runs.
The Cougars will look to start Daniel Poncedeleon (2-2, 3.58 ERA, 30 hits and 26 strikeouts in 27.2 innings) and Austin Pruitt (4-1, 2.15 ERA, two complete games, 25 hits and 33 strikeouts in 37.2 innings) on the mound. Houston has yet to name a Sunday starter. Freshman pitcher Jake Lemoine (4-0) has a 1.19 ERA, the team’s best mark. Chase Wellbrock leads the team with two saves.
This will be ECU’s 41st game against Houston, with the Pirates leading the series by a 22-17-1 margin. The team’s tied, 4-4, last season in Clark-LeClair Stadium. The Pirates are 9-4 at Cougar Field all-time.
Jack Reinheimer who has a .338 average with 27 hits, nine RBIs and a home run leads the Pirate bats. Jay Cannon is the only other ECU batter over a .300 average, batting .303 with 20 hits, eight RBIs and two home runs. Chase McDonald leads the team with 14 RBIs.
The Pirates will go with a starting rotation of Jeff Hoffman, Ryan Williams and David Lucroy on the mound this weekend. Hoffman (2-2) has a 3.51 ERA with 29 hits and 27 strikeouts in 33.1 innings. Williams (4-0) has a 4.15 ERA and leads the team with 34.2 innings pitched. Lucroy leads the team with 31 strikeouts. Closer Drew Reynolds leads the team with a 0.84 ERA and all six of the team’s saves.
The series kicks off on Friday, March 22, with the first pitch set for 7:30 p.m. The Saturday game is set for the same time, and Sunday’s game will start at 2 p.m.