May 18, 2011
5/19/2011 - 5/21/2011
East Carolina Pirates at Tulane Green Wave
First Pitch: 6:30 (Thur.), 6:30 (Fri.), 1:00 a.m. (Sat.)
Stadium: Greer Field at Turchin Stadium
Series: Tulane Leads 21-9
Looking at the Green Wave
As the games dwindle, the importance of every win intensifies for the Green Wave and, so far, they have been up to the task during the final month of the season. Tulane has claimed series victories in their last three Conference USA weekends, winning two of three games over UAB and Memphis, before winning two of three at Marshall last weekend. The task at hand is not finished yet, with the Olive and Blue needing one final series win over East Carolina to improve their seeding in the upcoming C-USA Tournament.
The Green Wave continues to do enough to pile up wins late in the season, with Tulane holding a 14-5 record in games decided by one run. Their 19 one-run games are the most in the nation this season, while their 14 wins are tied for the most in Division I. The offense has held steady at a .261 batting average over the past couple of weeks, with Jeremy Schaffer continuing to lead the team at the plate. The junior is hitting .365 with 43 runs scored, 23 doubles, six home runs and 37 RBI's, leading the team in all five of those categories. Nick Schneeberger has picked up his offense over the past ten games, leading the team in batting average (.405), hits (15), doubles (four) and RBI's (eight) over that span. Nick Boullosa is closing in on his second season with 20-plus stolen bases, sitting at 18 entering the final weekend of the season, to go along with 28 runs scored and 17 RBI's.
The pitching staff continues to give Tulane solid outings this season and will send David Napoli (Thur.), Conrad Flynn (Fri.) and Alex Byo (Sat.) to the mound this weekend. Napoli will make his first career weekend start on Thursday, but owns a 2.40 ERA with 13 strikeouts and a .245 batting average against in his last four appearances. Napoli has started three games this season and has thrown 44 total innings in 2011. Flynn will make his 42nd career start - moving into a tie for eighth on the career charts - and looks to improve his 3-5 record this season. The senior has thrown a team-high 83.1 innings and owns a 3.67 ERA with 63 strikeouts.
Nick Pepitone continues to move up the Tulane and Conference USA save charts, with the senior sitting squarely in second place on both of those lists. Pepitone has 14 saves this season, ranking him second to Brandon Belanger's 16 saves in 1999, and his 31 saves are second on the career charts for the Olive and Blue. The Katy, Texas native also sit second among the Conference USA chronicles and became just the third player in C-USA history to top the 30-save mark and now has 31 for his career.
Looking at the Pirates
Though they dropped their midweek tilt, East Carolina has won seven of their last ten games entering the weekend series. Like the Green Wave, the Pirates are 4-3 in Conference USA series' and are coming off of their bye weekend, winning three games over Delaware State in Greenville, N.C. Only one game separate ECU (11-10 in C-USA) and Tulane (10-11 in C-USA), so the series winner will take the higher seed into the Conference USA Tournament.
East Carolina enters the weekend with the fourth highest batting average in Conference USA and back that up with the ninth best ERA in the NCAA. The Pirates are hitting .297 as a team and their ERA sits at 2.60 in 468 innings of work. In games played away from their home stadium, ECU is 10-8 and is scoring just over five runs per game. Through 52 games, East Carolina's pitching staff has recorded eight shutouts, while their offense has been shutout just twice this season.
At the plate, Philip Clark paces the squad with a .349 batting average and ranks second with 12 stolen bases in 48 games played. The power is provided by Zach Wright, who leads the team with 12 home runs and 42 runs scored, while Corey Thompson is tied with Wright in the RBI department at 35. Trent Whitehead is tops on the squad with a .416 on-base percentage, collecting a team-high 68 hits - 18 doubles - to go along with 25 walks.
There isn't a Pirate pitcher that has tossed over 15 innings this season that has an ERA over 4.00, with all three weekend starters owning ERA's of 3.06 or under. As a staff, ECU is limiting their opponents to a .237 batting average and owns almost a three to one strikeout to walk ratio (417 K's to just 149 walks). Seth Maness leads the staff with a 7-3 record, Kevin Brandt sits at 6-3 and Mike Wright is 5-3.
Inside the Series
The Green Wave have never lost a regular season series to East Carolina and enter the weekend with a 21-9 overall record versus the Pirates since their first meeting in 2003. Tulane has swept ECU twice and won two of three games in their other six meeting, while the two teams have spilt six meeting in the Conference USA Tournament.
In games played in New Orleans, the Olive and Blue are 9-3 overall and took two of three games from ECU in 2009. The Green Wave holds a 9-5 mark in games played at East Carolina and are 3-1 in neutral site games versus the Pirates. Tulane owns the longest winning streak in the series, taking seven straight from 2004-06, while East Carolina won three straight games during the 2007 season.