Pirates set to face the Green Wave

ECU and Tulane meet on the baseball diamond in this weekend's three-game series.

The Pirates (15-18, 1-5) have been through an extremely tough stretch of games. In a three-game series against Rice, sandwiched between two games against N.C State, ECU escaped with a 1-4 record in five games against nationally-ranked teams.

But what's done is done and now the Pirates turn their attention to a road trip against the Tulane Green Wave (17-18, 4-5) with their sights set on getting back into the winning column.

Brennan Middleton leads the Green Wave with a .319 batting average and he is the only batter on the team, with more than two at bats, to hit over .300 this season. Tulane's Sean Potkay has registered two homeruns, 24 RBIs and 11 doubles, all team highs.

As a team, the Green Wave is batting at a .241 average on the year.

Tulane should go with a starting weekend rotation of Tony Rizzotti (5-3, 1.80 ERA), Alex Byo (2-4, 3.08 ERA), and David Napoli (3-2, 1.60 ERA) on the mound against ECU. Rizzotti has thrown two complete games in his eight appearances, while Byo has thrown one. Rizzotti also leads the team with 42 strikeouts on the year.

Closer Ian Gibaut (1-1, 2.03 ERA) leads the team with eight saves this season, followed by Andrew Garner (1-0, 4.50 ERA) with three.

To combat that pitching unit, Travis Watkins leads the Pirate offense with a .310 average in 71 at bats. Watkins, a freshman, was recently named to the 2013 Bench Watch list that names the nation's best catcher. He is the only freshman so far to make the list.

Chase McDonald leads the team with four homeruns on the year, and is tied for a team-high 20 RBIs with 3B Zach Houchins. Other than McDonald, six other Pirates have hit at least one home run this season, including Houchins.

ECU is batting at a .270 average as a team on the year.

The Pirates will go with the familiar rotation of Jeff Hoffman (3-4, 3.09 ERA), Ryan Williams (5-2, 4.34 ERA) and David Lucroy (3-1, 1.96 ERA) against the Green Wave. Hoffman and Lucroy are tied for a team-high 44 strikeouts on the year. Utility man and closer Drew Reynolds has all six of ECU's saves on the year.

Both teams enter this game with less-than-stellar records and will be looking to sturdy themselves in Conference USA play. A solid weekend for the Pirates could spark a strong conference push, after falling into a hole against two of the better teams in the conference (Houston and Rice).

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