Pirates take a swing at summer

After a disappointing run in the postseason, the Pirates set their sights on summer league baseball. Many of ECU's players have been dazzling the Coastal Plain League. Michael Prunka has the story.

With the Conference-USA baseball tournament in the rear view mirror, ECU baseball players have shifted their focus to summer leagues. For the players, the summer is important to staying in practice and maintaining conditioning.

To keep up with the Pirates during the summertime, look no further than the Coastal Plain League, which is hosting nine ECU players this summer.

First baseman Chase McDonald, outfielder Andrew LaMura and pitcher Justin Taylor are playing for the Morehead Marlins. The team stumbled out of the gate with five consecutive losses, and while they managed a five-game win streak, they still remain below the .500 mark.

McDonald, who was the CPL Offensive Player of the Year in 2011, picked up right where he left off with his dominant offensive performance with the Pirates. With four homeruns and eight RBIs in the first 15 games of the season, he stands out as one of the Marlins' strongest offensive forces.

Justin Taylor didn't get off to a great start. He started the season-opener on May 28 and gave up three runs in five innings pitched en route to a 4-3 loss in Fayetteville. However, he's started in two games since—both of which were winning efforts for the Marlins.

Taylor was credited with his first win of the season when he helped lead Morehead City to its first win of the season. He held Gastonia to just two runs in five innings before stepping down from the mound.

LaMura got off to a great start with a .316 batting average, a pair of homeruns and an RBI through his first five outings. However, in the 10 games since then, the freshman outfielder's batting average sunk to .188 and he's only scored one run and two RBIs.

Luke Lowery, who broke onto the scene for ECU as a freshman this past season, has been an offensive force throughout the first 11 games of the season. After averaging .41 RBIs a game as a Pirate this season, he's averaging .73 a game early on as a Wilson Tob.

The Peninsula Pilots are hosting a pair of Pirates—outfielder Garrett Brooks and pitcher Grayson Bailey. Brooks, a freshman, has given fans a glimpse of what he's capable of. He's batting .233 and is 6-for-7 in stolen bases.

Bailey has made six appearances as a relief pitcher. The beginning of his season was up and down. He held off Wilson's offense with three strikeouts and no runs in 2.2 innings, but gave up three runs to Edenton in one inning.

Pitchers Dylan Dickens and Nick Durazo have taken advantage of their limited time on the mound for the Asheboro Copperheads. Dickens hasn't allowed an earned run in his three innings pitched. In ten innings pitched over two starts, Durazo has an ERA of 1.80 and was credited with a win in Asheboro's 8-2 victory over Martinsville.

So while ECU students spend their summer in class, at work or at the beach, the Pirates baseball players are taking over the CPL. Come Spring 2014, ECU's baseball team will be ready to pick up where it left off.

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