Pirates take on summer league
Four East Carolina baseball players will be spending their summer in the Coastal Plain League, playing through the summer and looking to improve. Infielder Jackson Mims, pitchers Evan Voliva, Mason Keen and outfielder/pitcher Luke Bolka comprise the summer cast of Pirates playing in the CPL. Because of ECU’s deep run into the NCAA Regionals, most players took the summer off to rest up but all four summer players saw limited playing time a season ago. The junior Bolka and sophomore Voliva both play for the Morehead City Marlins but have only been a part of the team for four of its 13 games. Voliva, who saw time in 17 games for ECU a season ago while posting a team-worst 9.98 ERA, has made just one appearance out of the bullpen and was tagged with a loss after eight runs through three and two-thirds innings of work for the Marlins. Bolka, however, has found his offensive stroke, hitting .385 through four games and is tied with the team-lead with two home runs and notched three RBI. The 6-foot, 202-pound Bolka showed power in his limited time at the plate with the Pirates, notching two homers in just 28 at bats. Akin to Bolka’s early success with Morhead City, recently drafted slugger Luke Lowery saw his power numbers improve substantially during his summer ball playing days last summer. His five home runs for the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod League were enough to land him a spot in the Home Run Contest. Lowery also rode the momentum into the college season, leading the team with 12 homers. Keen, who made just five appearances out of the bullpen as a freshman a season ago, posting a 9.00 ERA and stands as the least experienced Pirate to take to the summer league. Through two appearances with the Wilson Tobs, Keen has one relief appearance and a start and boasts a 1.04 ERA through eight and two-thirds innings of work. He also has struck out eight batters so far. In stark contrast to Keen’s inexperience, the sophomore infielder Mims is the Pirate summer league player with the most experience from last year. The lean third baseman saw action in 36 games and started 26 of them, mostly at the hot corner. As a freshman, he batted .280 and collected 18 RBI. His fielding, however, ultimately knocked him out of the lineup. His .848 fielding percentage was a team-worst and his 10 errors were topped only by consistent starters Hunter Allen and Kirk Morgan. Through seven games with the Gastonia Grizzlies, Mims appears to be playing to the same narrative. His .348 batting average is a team-best and he also is four-for-four in stolen base attempts. However, his fielding continues to be a problem as he has made four errors to just 14 putouts, bringing his fielding percentage to a dismal .800. Luckily for Mims and the rest of the ECU summer league players, extra playing time will only serve as chance for improvement and could give them a leg up going into next season.
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