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Tuesday Preview: No. 30 East Carolina at UNC Wilmington

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No. 30 East Carolina (19-8, 4-2), fresh off a weekend sweep of Conference USA foe UAB, heads to the Port City on Tuesday for midweek action against in-state rival UNC Wilmington.

The Seahawks are winners of seven of their last nine and also find themselves on the heels of a three-game sweep. UNCW knocked off Old Dominion on three straight days, improving to 15-12 and 10-2 in league play - a ledger that places the 'Hawks in first place in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Here's more insight into Tuesday night's showdown...

Game News and Notes

- RHP Jeff Hoffman (ECU) will square off against righty Travis Bradley in Tuesday's non-conference tilt. It marks the third start of the year for Hoffman. Pitching statistics for Hoffman can be found later in this entry.

- The two schools met twice on the diamond in 2011 as ECU came out victorious in both decisions. The Pirates claimed a 20-5 triumph on Mar. 29 in Wilmington and won another slugfest, 17-13, on Apr. 19 at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.

Current student staff assistant Trent Whitehead led off the Mar. 29 tilt with a home run and East Carolina went on to capture an easy win. Thirteen Pirates recorded at least one hit in the 20-hit attack, led by Jack Reinheimer (3-for-6, four RBIs). Philip Clark, Corey Thompson, John Wooten and Ben Fultz each notched multi-hit performances. Every starter scored a run and eight of the opening nine produced an RBI.

In the second contest, Austin Chrismon delivered his first collegiate win as he tossed 2 2/3 innings of one-run ball, allowing three hits and one earned run while walking a pair and striking out one. Thompson led the way offensively with four hits. Reinheimer, Chase McDonald (2-for-4, three RBIs) and Clark (3-for-4, HR, four RBIs) also paved the way as UNCW was forced to use 10 different pitchers in the high-scoring affair.

- The Seahawks and Pirates have squared off against a trio of common opponents thus far in 2012. UNCW collected three wins over ODU, two against Virginia Commonwealth, and dropped a pair of contests against No. 9 N.C. State. ECU split its pair of matchups against the Wolfpack, claimed a 10-4 decision against ODU on Feb. 22, and suffered an 18-11 setback at the hands of VCU in midweek action on Mar. 13.

- Both schools come into tomorrow night's matchup following extra-inning wins in Sunday's games. ECU knocked off UAB, 6-5, in 13 innings while the Seahawks handed ODU a one-run loss in 10 frames.

- Despite carrying a 5-10 mark against non-CAA foes, UNCW sports a 10-2 clip in league play, which lands it atop the conference standings.

- ECU enters the week tied for second in C-USA with a 4-2 record. Traditional power Rice boasts the same record in the league and both schools trail Central Florida, which enters April with just one conference loss after sweeping Houston last weekend. 

- ECU has enjoyed playing inside the friendly confines of Clark-LeClair Stadium as it has now won seven straight home tilts. The Purple and Gold was handed its last loss by VCU on Mar. 13.

- Pirate outfielder Jay Cannon looks forward to somewhat of a homecoming on Tuesday night. He played his junior college baseball at Brunswick Community College in Supply, N.C., which is about 25 miles south of Wilmington. Cannon was a two-time All-Region performer for head coach Robbie Allen and the Dolphins. The Fuquay, N.C., native tallied a career-high four hits - three singles and a double - in Friday night's Conference USA home opener.

- Wooten has recorded base knocks in 13 of his last 14 games after his 12-game hitting streak was snapped in Saturday's 12-2 victory over UAB.

- Fultz is tied for the team-lead with five stolen bases. The Greensboro native is perfect in five attempts and finds himself tied atop the list with - oddly enough - catcher Zach Wright. The senior backstop has swiped five bags in six tries.

UNCW Leading Hitters

- Jake Koenig: .345 BA, 9 2B, HR, 18 RBI

- Thomas Pope: .327, 24 R, 8 2B, 4 3B, 16 RBI

- Andrew Cain (Greenville native and J.H. Rose H.S. graduate): .327, 20 R, 3 HR, 15 RBI

- Matt Campbell: .321, team-high 36 H, 8 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBI

- Tyler Molinaro: .274, 5 2B, 7 HR, 24 RBI

Seahawk Relief

- Ricky Holden: 1-0, 2.19 ERA, 24.2 IP, 24 H, 6 R (all earned), 5 BB, 14 K (11 appearances)

- Tom Timoney: 0-1, 2.53 ERA, 10.2 IP, 11 H, 4 R (3 ER), BB, 6 K (11 appearances)

- William Prince: 2-1, 2.70 ERA, 10 IP, 8 H, 5 R (3 ER), 6 BB, 12 K (10 appearances)

- Kelly Secrest: 0-0, 3.18 ERA, 17 IP, 17 H, 8 R (6 ER), 5 BB, 15 K (14 appearances) 

East Carolina Leading Hitters

- Drew Reynolds: .392 BA, 29 H, 6 2B, 2 HR, 13 RBI

- Jay Cannon: .342, 27 H, 18 R, 5 2B, 2 HR, 10 RBI

- Tim Younger: .329 BA, 28 H, 17 R, 4 2B, 16 RBI

- Corey Thompson: .327, tied for team-high 33 H, 18 R, 5 2B, 4 HR, 22 RBI

- John Wooten: .314, tied for team-high 33 H, 23 R, 5 HR, 15 RBI

- Philip Clark: .298, 25 H, 3B, 10 RBI 

Pirate Relief

- Andy Smithmyer: 2-1, 1.44 ERA, 25 IP, 21 H, 9 R (4 ER), 10 BB, 23 K (10 appearances)

- Tanner Merritt: 2-2, 2.45 ERA, 18.1 IP, 14 H, 7 R (5 ER), 3 BB, 19 K (13 appearances, 4 saves)

- Jeff Hoffman (statistics include results from two games in which Hoffman started - both against No. 9 N.C. State): 0-0, 2.53 ERA, 21.1 IP, 14 H, 8 R (6 ER), 4 BB, 8 K;  **The freshman right-hander pitched five innings against the Wolfpack in his first collegiate start (allowed four earned runs) and 6 2/3 frames in last Wednesday's contest in Raleigh (surrendered three earned runs) - he did not factor in either decision. He has made relief appearances in six contests.

- Drew Reynolds: 2-0, 3.07 ERA, 14.2 IP, 11 H, 7 R (5 ER), 5 BB, 15 K; The Cherryville, N.C., native and ultimate utilityman has allowed just one extra-base knock in 13 appearances and leads C-USA with seven saves. In his most recent outing, Reynolds yielded just one hit in four scoreless stanzas (career-high) while striking out six (personal-best), earning his second win of the season in a 6-5 victory over UAB in Sunday's series finale.

Check out the '10th Inning' blog for updates on pitching probables - also tune-in following Tuesday's in-state clash as we will provide analysis of the contest as East Carolina seeks a midweek victory before hosting Houston in the third Conference USA series of 2012. *Reminder - The Pirates series against the Cougars will begin on Thursday, Apr. 5 and end Saturday, Apr. 7 due to the Easter holiday. Thursday and Friday will feature 6 p.m. (EST) first-pitch starts and the series finale is set to begin at 10 a.m. 

Finally, we'd like to express a most sincere debt of gratitude to Darren Headrick, who recently concluded his stint as the Pirates' play-by-play commentator on 1070 AM, the Pirate IMG Sports Network. Good luck, Darren - we wish you all the best in your new role with the Carolina Mudcats. As always, 'Roll Pirates!' 

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