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Pirates looking for saves, AAC wins

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ECU's Matt Bridges (#27) pitches during a game against Mercer in Greenville on Friday, March 17, 2017.


The Daily Reflector

Friday, April 21, 2017

During crucial moments Tuesday against UNC Wilmington, it was Sam Lanier used to get out of the seventh inning before giving the ball to Matt Bridges to pitch the eighth and then Tyler Smith the ninth for East Carolina baseball in its 9-5 victory over UNCW.

With former struggling closer Joe Ingle officially out of the mix after his dismissal from the team earlier this week, Lanier, Smith and Bridges are likely entrenched in the lead spots in the Pirate bullpen for the remainder of the season. ECU (20-18) is still searching for its first American Athletic Conference victory — it is 0-9 in the league heading into this weekend’s series at Cincinnati — and Smith, a freshman right-hander, could be the first in line for save opportunities.

Smith has 15 relief appearances and a 4.82 ERA with no saves. Bridges, a sophomore with a slider as his top pitch, has been the most-used reliever, racking up a team-high 21 appearances in a variety of situations with an 0-3 record, one save and 5.28 ERA.

“(Starting pitcher Jacob) Wolfe was tremendous, but I thought all of our guys out the bullpen did a good job,” Pirate coach Cliff Godwin said in his postgame radio interview Tuesday night in Wilmington.

With more consistency from its starting pitching than the bullpen, ECU’s team ERA for the season is 4.37. Its opponents have a mark of 5.56.

Cincinnati (19-18) is 4-5 in the AAC, highlighted by going 2-1 last weekend at South Florida. The Bearcats then split in midweek action, losing to Xavier 9-1 and beating Murray State 4-2.


Dwanya Williams-Sutton, East Carolina: Godwin and the Pirates started Williams-Sutton in left field Tuesday and he hit a home run in his return to action as part of a 2-for-5 outing at the plate. He shifted over to center field late in the game during substitutions. Because of a lingering hand injury, the sophomore’s longest streak of consecutive games played this year is six.

A.J. Bumpass, Cincinnati: Cincy has its own sophomore talented outfielder in Bumpass, who is the only Bearcats player with a season batting average above .281. He bats second in the team’s lineup and during conference play has a .351 average in nine games.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.