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Preview: No. 27 East Carolina vs. Houston

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Coming off a 5-0 victory over in-state rival UNC Wilmington Tuesday night, No. 27 East Carolina (20-8, 4-2 Conference USA) welcomes Houston to Greenville for a three-game series beginning Thursday at 6 p.m.

Houston is on the heels of a 4-1 win over McNeese State, but the Cougars have dropped six of their last eight games, dropping to 11-16 overall and 1-5 in league play.

Here's more insight into the Easter weekend showdown...

The Last Time Out

- The Pirates knocked off UNCW behind six shutout innings from freshman right-hander Jeff Hoffman, who scattered five hits while walking a pair and striking out a career-best seven batters. Jay Cannon paced the attack offensively with three RBIs. Tanner Merritt picked up his fifth save of the season, tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief.

Weekend Pitching Probables

- Thursday: LHP Kevin Brandt vs. RHP Jared Ray -- Brandt lasted a season-low three innings in last Friday's game against UAB and enters the contest sporting a 3-2 record and 2.31 ERA while his counterpart carries a 1-3 clip with a 6.40 ERA.

- Friday: LHP Tyler Joyner vs. LHP Jordan Lewis -- Joyner - the reigning Conference USA Pitcher-of-the-Week - is coming off a complete-game win over UAB and boasts a 4-0 record and 2.66 ERA. Lewis is 3-4 with an earned run average of 5.23.

- Saturday: RHP Jharel Cotton vs. RHP Austin Pruitt -- Cotton leads ECU with six wins and has a 2.89 ERA while Pruitt has been Houston's most consistent presence on the mound with a 2-2 record and 2.16 ERA.

ECU Leading Hitters

- Drew Reynolds: .397, 31 H, 6 2B, 2 HR, 13 RBIs

- Jay Cannon: .337, 28 H, 5 2B, 2 HR, 13 RBIs

- Tim Younger: .337, 30 H, 4 2B, 16 RBIs

- Corey Thompson: .330, 35 H, 5 2B, 4 HR, 22 RBIs

- John Wooten: .303, 33 H, 5 HR, 15 RBIs

Other News and Notes

- Chase Jenson has enjoyed a very productive season at the plate for the Cougars as he enters the weekend with a .303 batting average and a team-high 31 hits. He has also smacked five doubles and collected 23 RBIs.

- Houston has is looking to win its first conference series thus far in 2012 after dropping two of three to Southern Miss and suffering a sweep at the hands of UCF.

- East Carolina took two of three from Houston in last year's series, including a 12-2, seven-inning decision in the rubber game.

- Game Times (All Times Eastern): Thursday 6 p.m., Friday 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.

Check out the '10th Inning' after each contest for extensive coverage as the Pirates look to claim their second consecutive league series victory.

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