ECU welcomes top C-USA team

Zach Houchins

A huge Conference USA matchup takes place this weekend as top-team Southern Miss visits Greenville.

ECU continues its climb up the Conference USA ranks, while currently sitting in fourth place as winners of seven of its last eight games. They welcome Southern Miss to Clark-LeClair Stadium this weekend.

The Golden Eagles are the best team in the conference as of now, having won 13 of their last 15 games. This three-game series will be a battle of two teams that started this season off slowly, but are now surging in the final stretch of the 2013 regular season.

Chase Fowler leads the Southern Miss offense, boasting a .338 batting average and 23 RBIs. Blake Brown leads the team with six home runs on the year, while Mason Robbins has a team-high 26 RBIs.

The Golden Eagles have four players batting over .300: Austin Roussel (.346), Fowler, Isaac Rodriguez (.333) and Robbins. The team also has four players with at least 20 RBIs: Fowler, Rodriquez, Robbins and Brown.

On the mound, Southern Miss will likely start Andrew Pierce (9-1, 2.13 ERA) and Jake Drehoff (2-4, 3.70 ERA). The Sunday starter is still to be determined. Pierce has given up 22 runs in 11 apperances this season, including three complete games and a team-high 77 strikeouts. Bradley Roney leads the team with seven saves this year.

Both Pierce and ECU's Jeff Hoffman have been named to the 60-man Golden Spikes Award Watch List, given to the nation's best amateur baseball player.

The Pirates bring a fired-up offense to this series. Drew Reynolds has a team-best .313 batting average, while Chase McDonald leads the team with 32 RBIs and 6 homeruns.

Zach Houchins has been the hot hand lately, as he sits right behind McDonald with 31 RBIs and 4 homeruns. The first-year Pirate is currently hitting .282, only behind Reynolds and Jack Reinheimer (.286).

ECU will go with its normal weekend rotation of Hoffman (4-5, 2.99 ERA), David Lucroy (4-1, 2.15 ERA) and Ryan Williams (6-2, 4.12 ERA). Hoffman leads the team with 81.1 innings pitched and a team-high 64 strikeouts. Reynolds has a team-high 11 saves on the year.

The series will begin on Friday, May 3, at 6 p.m. in Greenville. The series will continue on Saturday at 2 p.m. before wrapping up Sunday at 11 a.m.

A series win for the Pirates could vault them into the top of C-USA action, a feat that seemed foreign just a few short weeks ago.

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