Pirates Building a Résumé

Photo by Kat Jessick

With only a few weeks left in the season, East Carolina is hoping to bolster its résumé with wins over the quality teams left on the schedule—starting with North Carolina on Tuesday.

East Carolina (27-18, 13-8 Conference USA) travels to Chapel Hill for its second and last meeting with North Carolina (27-18, 13-11 ACC). The Pirates, who defeated UNC 3-2 last week, are looking to build a résumé.

As of last week's rankings, four of five teams left on ECU's schedule have a better rating percentage index. UNC is one of those four teams, so the Pirates will look to be starting down the home stretch on a strong foot.

Throughout the season, though, ECU has built quite the repertoire. In conference, the Pirates have won five of their series, including one versus Rice. The Owls are No. 8 in the nation in rating percentage index and the top-ranked team in C-USA.

The Diamond Bucs haven't been as impressive out of conference, though. They are 14-10 outside the league. The bulk of those losses have come against some of the nation's best teams in terms of RPI. For example, they were swept by Virginia (sixth best RPI) early on in the season. They followed up that up with a fourth loss in the state of Virginia—this time against VCU (35th best RPI).

Those four losses in the second week of the season make up almost half of ECU's out of conference losses. On top of failing to make an impact against some of the best non-conference teams on their schedule, the Pirates have also dropped games against teams with much weaker RPI. They split a pair of games with UNC Greensboro, which doesn't even crack the top-150 in RPI.

ECU has, however, done well against its in-state rivals. In the last few weeks, ECU split two games with North Carolina State (61st best RPI) that saw the Pirates come up short in the first game only to turn around and demolish the Wolfpack 7-0 a week later. Add in last week's 3-2 win over the Tar Heels and ECU has built an impressive local résumé.

Both ECU and UNC are coming off winning weekends against teams that aren't exactly among the NCAA's best. ECU took two of three games versus Florida Atlantic and UNC swept Virginia Tech. The teams ranked 127th and 107th, respectively, heading into their series.

UNC's bats have heated up since last week. The Tar Heels notched nine hits on Reid Love and Ryan Williams. Since then, leadoff batter Michael Russell has gone 7-of-16 at the plate with four runs, including a game-winning score in Game 3 against Virginia Tech, and an RBI.

This week will mark the beginning of an important stretch of games for the Bucs. They'll have to bolster their résumé with a string of wins against quality opponents if they hope to be in the running for a regional bid come the postseason.

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