Friday First Takes - The ECU-is-West-coast-killer edition


Clark-LeClair Stadium is a sparkling gem in college baseball facilities. In a word, wow.

The Super Bowl Shuffle Bears over New England. The '95 Cornhuskers over Florida. The Dream Team Olympic basketball team over everybody.

Now you get the idea of how East Carolina dominated Cal State Fullerton tonight. Alright, maybe not to that dire extent, but this was a beat-down. The Chris Fowler "behind the woodshed" type of thing. Last Friday, they edged Pepperdine. Today, it was a pasting.

The Pirates, to my shock and the Titan fans dismay, had their way with Fullerton at Clark-LeClair Stadium tonight, plating three runs in the game-deciding 3rd inning on a night when ECU didn't trail at any point in the game and cruised through the last half of. A fact that was not lost on Coach Billy Godwin.

"It was important to get out ahead early, especially as aggressive as Fullerton is." the Pirate coach would say afterward. "It took some of their aggressiveness away and kind of set us at ease."

For the second Friday in a row, T.J. Hose stood statue strong against an invading West coast school, going 7.0 innings of three-hit ball, striking out six and allowing only a single earned run. He left after one batter in the eighth inning to a rousing standing ovation from the Pirates fans.

Hose picked up win number three, against two losses, and gained a few fans along the way. "T. J. beat a great club tonight." Coach Godwin stated flatly. "This was probably his best performance since he's been at East Carolina. Just a great effort on his part."

But hand it to the Pirate planks too, getting 10 hits off of what was regarded as the best pitcher on the West coast. These guys didn't back down one iota, going so far as to hit numerous first pitch strikes.

"We struggled with Wes Roemer a little bit last year when we faced him." leadoff hitter Harrison Eldridge said of his team's approach tonight. "We came out here and attacked early because he's a strike thrower and he doesn't walk a lot of people."

Eldridge ended up the night going 3-for-4 and got the support of two monster home runs from Ryan Tousley and Corey Kemp. Both of those blasts came in the game-changing 4th inning, when ECU figured out how to attack the Fullerton flame-thrower and the Titans figured out they were in trouble.

"They just came out and played at a different speed than we did tonight." Coach Horton lamented. "Like I've said before, our guys seem to measure things too much. But they've been responsive when they've been knocked on their butts. And they beat us in every phase of the game, make no mistake about it."

If form follows, however, the Pirates need to stay diligent. Fullerton has twice lost Friday games, only to fight back to win on Saturday and Sunday against Arizona and UCLA. "We've got to be careful here, we talked about peaks and valleys, so we don't want to get too high or too low." coach Godwin said, looking over his shoulder at the Titan members getting a tongue-lashing from Coach Horton in right field. "We've got two more games against a very good team there."

The new digs---
A special thank you to East Carolina SID Malcolm Gray for the dime-tour of the sparkling new Clark-LeClark Stadium. This place is a palace for college baseball, especially for a program that doesn't have an Omaha-steeped tradition. But make no mistake, it was built for a loyal, passionate Pirate fan base. Tonight's announced crowd of 3,208 wasn't a bad showing. And I really love the "jungle" berm that is built all the way around the outfield wall. That's a nice touch, also allowing for an extra thousand or so fans at each game. In fact, Malcolm told me that last week's highly-intriguing announced crowd of 5,500 against North Carolina State was actually inaccurate. "To be honest, the 'jungle' up on the outfield berm was packed and so was the stadium concourse. It was really more like 6,500 people. But the fire marshall won't let us have that many people in here, so we have to call it a max of 5,500." Nice.

On to other things.

ACC upset night, the baseball version---
Similar to the basketball tournament that is going on in Tampa, the ACC had a turn-it-upside-down day in baseball today. Here's the carnage:

Boston College - 3
Duke - 1
Okay, so we shouldn't be too shocked at a Duke loss, but this is still just its second loss of the season.

Virginia Tech - 5
Georgia Tech - 3
As I've stated, I've been skeptical of the Jackets all along. Not to rip off that southern comedian, but here's your sign.

Memphis - 6
Clemson - 4 (10inns)
This gives some credence to the Tigers 8-3 start. And takes some luster off the Clemson top 10 ranking. Nice work Coach Schoenrock.

Maryland - 6
North Carolina State - 3
Ditto for the Terps and their 10-3 start. UMd gets five earned runs off of draft darling Andrew Brackman, handing him his first loss.

Virginia - 3
Wake Forest - 8
Wake raps out eight hits and five runs off of Sean Doolittle, also giving him his first loss as well. Willy Fox blasts a pair of home runs and five RBI.

Best conference performance---
Conference USA.
Southern Miss is saddled with buying the beer after being the only conference team that didn't come away with a W today.

Cal State Fullerton - 1
East Carolina - 6
Again, this was probably the most impressive performance of the day.

Memphis - 6
Clemson - 4 (10inns.)
The Tigers win and the Tigers lose. One of them gains respect.

Texas Christian - 6
Rice - 20
Jake Arrieta and Cody Dunbar get a rude treatment, combining to give up 15 hits and 16 runs.

Loyola Marymount - 1
Tulane - 6
Getting runs off of the Brad Meyers isn't easy, but the Green Wave managed to get four and Sean Morgan went the distance, giving up just five hits, striking out 13.

Campbell - 8 6
Marshall - 9 6
Pair of one-run thrillers help the Herd improve to 8-3. Brandon Casamassima went 5-for-6 with two home runs on the day.

Furman - 2
Alabama-Birmingham - 3
Blazers score all three runs in the 8th on home runs by Ryan Lovdahl and J. R. Bond.

Massachusetts - 1
Central Florida - 6
Knights get a surprise performance from Austin Hudson, who goes 6.0 innings and gives up just four hits and no runs for his first win of the season.

Princeton - 0
Houston - 5
Wes Musick and Bryan Tully combine to allow just two hits on the day to even the UofH mark at 9-9.

Worst conference performance on the day---
The West Coast Conference.
A pair of one-run comeback wins are the only saving grace for a conference I've stood up for time and again this year.

Pepperdine - 6
Oklahoma State - 7 (10inns)
Lots of bad news for the Waves here. Barry Enright wasn't sharp again and the Pokes score three runs in the 9th to tie it up and Mark Mangini singles to start the 10th and eventually scores in the 10th.

Loyola Marymount - 1
Tulane - 4
See above.

Gonzaga - 3
BYU - 10
Inconsistent 'Dogs strike out 11 times and commit four errors in digging early hole against capable Cougars.

Michigan - 6
San Diego - 7
Toreros make massive comeback, scoring three runs in the bottom of the 9th after two outs.

Portland - 8
UC Riverside - 7
The Highlanders are quickly becoming one of the bigger mystery teams of the 2007 season. And not for good reasons.

San Francisco - 1
Baylor - 5
Dons out-hit the Bears seven to five and still don't get the W. Like Gonzaga, USF just can't get consistency, never winning or losing more than two games in a row.

Revenge is a dish served cold---
Nebraska - 0
Alabama - 8

UCLA - 0
Mississippi - 8
These are two of the more impressive wins of the year for the SEC. Bama remembers last year's 3-zip series loss in Lincoln. And Ole Miss remembers the UCLA series win in Westwood. Miers Quigley and Will Kline get the Ws on the mound.

Get this one---
Bethune-Cookman - 8
Coastal Carolina - 9
B-CC scores six in the top of the 9th, the Chants score four in the bottom of the 9th. This was freakin' wild. After all that scoring, the winning run is a bases-loaded walk with two out.

Okay, that's enough for tonight. I'm heading for the Wake Forest-Virginia game tomorrow. Hopefully I'll get a chance to do a Q&A with Wahoo head man Brian O'Connor.

And might I add, this East coast time thing isn't fun. I can just imagine how bummed I'll be when I lose an hour tomorrow night to that daylight savings thing. Damn.


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Eric Sorenson Eric Sorenson
Eric Sorenson is's National Baseball Columnist, and also appears on CSTV as a baseball expert