East Carolina (2-1) looks for redemption from last season as it hits the road to take on Campbell (3-0). Both clubs started off on the right foot with season-opening wins.
The Diamond Bucs claimed wins over James Madison on Friday and Saturday. Newcomer Ian Townsend shined in Friday’s contest as part of their explosive fourth inning. Townsend’s three-run homer accounted for three of those four runs. He added another run and plated another teammate over the course of the weekend.
Campbell made more of a statement against LaSalle, though. The Camels swept their first three games and did so in a definitive fashion. Between Saturday’s game and Sunday’s double-header, they outscored LaSalle 28-12. Freshman outfielder Danny Pardo went 9-for-12 at the plate over the course of the weekend. He scored five runs, an RBI and stole four bases.
That said, ECU is going to have its hands full on the defensive end of the game. The Pirates can’t afford fielding errors against a team with as much batting power as Campbell. A big focal point for that is the performance of first baseman Luke Lowery, who had fielding errors on two consecutive plays in Saturday’s game. Kirk Morgan also made a freshman error at shortstop in his first collegiate game on Friday, but now he’s got three games under his belt.
The pitching staff will have its work cut out, too. Freshman Davis Kirkpatrick is slated to make his first start as a Pirate. Pitching for local high school D.H. Conley, Kirkpatrick was named Daily Reflector Pitcher-of-the-Year in 2013 after finishing the season 13-1 with a 0.55 ERA and 154 strikeouts in 88.1 innings. He’ll be challenged by some of the best hitters on ECU’s schedule this season.
ECU struggled in midweek games last year. The Diamond Bucs only picked up five wins in 16 weekday games last season and two of those losses were to Campbell. From that squad, only three of nine positional starters are returning. Among them, though, is senior third baseman Elijah Trail. Last season, Trail scored 39 runs and notched 51 RBI. He also hit 13 doubles, seven homeruns and stole nine bases.
“What happened last year, we’ve forgotten about,” said head coach Billy Godwin. “We’re focused on this year. This is a new club…And Campbell’s a good club. They’re coming off 49 wins and a team that beat us twice last year. I hope our guys are ready for that because they’re going to come in here and they’re going to play hard.”
ECU’s deep bullpen takes some pressure off Kirkpatrick. Among the additions to relief pitchers is Ryan Williams, who was credited with both wins this weekend. Williams, formerly a starting pitcher, allowed four hits and just a single run in 6.1 innings pitched between Friday and Sunday.
Since Williams made two appearances this weekend, he’s not likely to get called during the game. Instead, Godwin will look towards players like Brett Mabry, Jacob Wolfe, Luke Bolka and Nick Durazo. Mabry came in for David Lucroy on Saturday and gave up three hits and an unearned run in five innings. Wolfe and Durazo both got the chance to throw a few pitches over the weekend, so they could be two likely candidates to make an appearance. Reid Love has been added to this weekend’s rotation against Virginia, so he’s not likely to come out of the bullpen.
The first pitch for Tuesday’s game is scheduled for 4 p.m. in Clark-LeClair Stadium. Follow the action via Twitter @InsideECUSports.