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Preview: No. 25 East Carolina (11-3) vs. VCU (10-6) - Mar. 13, 2012

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East Carolina has won six of its last seven games - including three wins in last weekend's DRASH Alabama Classic - and looks to continue the impressive streak with a Tuesday tilt against former Colonial Athletic Association foe Virginia Commonwealth at 5 p.m. (ET).

The Rams are coming off their first conference series of the 2012 campaign as they took two of three from Towson.

Here's more insight into today's matchup...

 VCU Notes

- The Rams enter the contest with a 10-6 record, 2-1 in league play. They have been much better at home sporting a 9-2 ledger while dropping four of five contests on the road.

- In its last game, VCU knocked off Towson in the rubber match of a three-game set in a dramatic 9-8 triumph.

Leading Hitters

- Six of nine starters for the Rams are sporting batting averages over the .300 mark.

- Joey Cujas: .455 BA (25-for-55), team-best 12 doubles, nine walks and 16 RBIs. He has only been retired by strikeout twice in 2012.

- Bill Cullen: .397, club-high 27 hits and five triples, also leads the squad with 43 total bases

- Paul Nice has also been solid at the plate. He is batting .365 and is slugging a team-high .481.

- Chris Ayers, Vimael Machin and Taylor Perkins are also hitting over .300.

- Brent Mikionis is the only Ram with more than one home run - he has belted two round-trippers and has 12 RBIs.

Pitching Probable

- Seth Cutler-Voltz: Thus far in 2012, the right-hander is 2-1 with a 3.71 earned run average. The results from his three starts are listed below...

Feb. 21 at Pepperdine (L, 6-1): 5.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R (all earned), 1 BB, 2 K

Feb. 28 vs. Norfolk State (W, 4-3): 7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R (earned), 0 BB, 6 K

Mar. 6 vs. Temple (W, 6-3): 3.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (both unearned), 0 BB, 3 K

Top Relievers

- Brennan Huelse: 6 appearances, 1.50 ERA, 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 9 K

- Blake Hauser: 10 appearances, 1.59 ERA, 6 saves, 11.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 9 BB, 23 K

East Carolina Notes

- The Pirates own an advantage in the all-time series as they boast a 31-24 edge over VCU. The last meeting came in March of 2008 - ECU won, 10-4.

- Sophomore utility player Drew Reynolds was named Conference USA Hitter-of-the-Week on Monday. He finished the DRASH Classic with a .636 batting average (7-for-11) while smacking his first career home run. The Cherryville, N.C., native also scored a pair of runs and recorded multi-hit games against Alabama, Oral Roberts, and No. 20 Louisville.

- The Pirates are ranked No. 25 nationally in the latest Perfect Game Baseball poll. ECU is receiving votes in the ESPN/USA Today and NCBWA polls.

ECU Welcomes Back Jake Harris

- Jake Harris is expected to start the game on the mound for the Purple and Gold. Head coach Billy Godwin lost the southpaw in early April last season as Harris was sidelined with Tommy John surgery.

- Now a junior, Harris was one of the top left-handed relivers in Conference USA before the arm injury. 2011 statistics and highlights are listed below...

- 2011 Totals: 15 2/3 IP, 7 H, 3 R (2 ER), 6 BB, 21 K. He did not allow an extra-base hit in 14 appearances while holding opponents to a .137 batting clip. Tuesday marks Harris' first career start.

- Highlights: In six outings, he recorded multiple strikeouts. The Raleigh native and Millbrook High School graduate notched his best performance Apr. 6 at UAB. He tossed four innings of relief in Birmingham allowing one run (earned) on one hit while walking a pair and striking out six. The Pirates went on to win the game, 8-5. In three apperances against ranked opponents, foes did not score an earned run against Harris. Opponents did not cross the plate once against the 6-foot, 190-pounder in 11 of the 14 games in which he appeared.

Pirates at the Plate

- Drew Reynolds: .476 (10-for-21), HR, RBI

- Corey Thompson: .386, 2 HR, 11 RBIs, team-best 17 hits, tied for tops on the club with three doubles (Jay Cannon, Zach Wright) and nine runs (Cannon)

- Tim Younger: .375, eight runs, ranks second on the squad with 15 base knocks

- Jay Cannon: .314, HR, 6 RBIs, three doubles

- Philip Clark: .304, 6 RBIs, tied for the team-lead with one triple (Ben Fultz, John Wooten)

What a Relief

- East Carolina possesses one of the nation's best bullpens.

2012 Stats: 3-1, 0.96 ERA, 46 2/3 IP, 29 H, 8 R (5 ER), 18 BB, 40 K. Relief pitchers have only given up five extra-base hits this season.

**Overall, the pitching staff has an eye-popping 1.94 ERA, a mark that ranks third nationally. It also allows an average of 6.77 knocks per nine innings which is 11th best among collegiate rotations.

Check out the '10th Inning' following today's game for more news and notes from the midweek contest against VCU. Remember, first pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. (ET) at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium. If you can't make it out to to the stadium, tune into 1070 AM Pirate Sports Network as Darren Headrick provides the play-by-play with color analyst and former ECU skipper Gary Overton.

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