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East Carolina's Chris Holba pitches against UNC Wilmington during the NCAA Greenville Regional last Friday.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Just like last June, East Carolina baseball’s pitching ace is headed to the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

ECU Friday night starter Chris Holba was selected early in the final day of the Major League Baseball draft Wednesday, going in the 11th round to the Cardinals. St. Louis also picked former Pirate ace Evan Kruczynski a year ago.

Holba, a junior right-hander who posted a 9-1 record this season, will forego his senior season to sign a professional contract. The other two Pirates drafted — outfielder Dwanya Williams-Sutton in the fifth round by the San Diego Padres and third baseman Connor Litton to the Philadelphia Phillies in the 20th round — also are juniors. All three players are turning pro.

“It was a tough decision because I love East Carolina and grew up in the military moving around a lot and have considered Greenville my home,” Holba said. “I’ve loved the guys I’ve played with and it sucks to move on, but it’s reality and I just feel it’s the best time for me to kind of turn the page and start this next chapter of my baseball career.”

Holba said he was about 15 minutes from St. Louis when he lived in O’Fallon, Ill., during high school.

He also said he talked to Kruczynski for an hour Tuesday night and was in contact with him after his selection Wednesday became official.

“I’m happy to make this deal happen and start my career with St. Louis,” he said. “I’m very excited to be picked by the Cardinals with their tradition of developing pitchers and they have a really good farm system. The organization has won for a really long time, so I’m just really glad to be a part of it.”

The Pirates, who hosted the NCAA Greenville Regional last weekend and were eliminated before the championship round to finish with a 44-18 record, went 13-2 in Holba’s 15 starts this year. He finished with a 2.99 ERA and 60 strikeouts with 20 walks in 81 1/3 innings.

ECU also had two recruits selected in catcher Logan O’Hoppe (Philadelphia/23rd round) and outfielder Christian Jayne (Arizona/27th round), and they will have to decide if they want to sign with those clubs or come to ECU and possibly re-enter the draft later.

Litton, who is originally from Big Cove Tannery, Pa., and who transferred to East Carolina from Cowley (Kan.) College, was one of the Pirates’ best defensive players this season along with batting .285 with nine home runs and 38 RBIs in 59 starts.

Williams-Sutton was selected Tuesday by San Diego. The Wilson native, who was a freshman All-American in 2016 and nearly went pro out of Greenfield School in 2015, was second on ECU this season with a .331 batting average, and he was 18-of-20 on stolen bases to lead the club.

His selection of 141st overall came with an approximate slotted signing bonus of $375,600.

“I am truly blessed and excited to be in the San Diego Padres organization,” Williams-Sutton posted on Twitter on Tuesday night. “I will always cherish the memories Pirate Nation provided me.”

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

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Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

ECU

October 14, 2018

These three questions appeared in the Pirate Gameday section previewing the East Carolina-Houston football game, which ended as a 42-20 win for Houston that could have been more lopsided if not for a few late touchdowns by the Pirates.

Speaking of those touchdowns ... 

1. Which ECU quarterback…

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October 13, 2018

A week-long theme of a possible new-look East Carolina football offense did not come to fruition Saturday night against Houston at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

On a night when ECU had its first announced crowd of less than 30,000 since the finale of the 2005 season, the Pirates used all three of their…

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October 13, 2018

East Carolina’s football offense started too slow and delivered too little again on Saturday night in a 42-20 beating at the hands of visiting Houston.

From third-down miscues to an inability to reach the red zone to a touchdown drought that stretched seven full quarters, ECU (2-4, 0-3…

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October 13, 2018

On Saturday night, East Carolina passed the halfway point in the college football season amid the same uncertainty that has loomed around Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium the last few years.

The Pirates, in a make-or-break season for third-year head coach Scottie Montgomery, lost 42-20 to Houston for a 2-4…

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October 13, 2018

Q: You lead the Pirates with 7.5 sacks this season. Does one stand out the most?

A: Not really, but there are a lot of team memories. That win against Old Dominion (on Sept. 29 in which ECU totaled nine sacks), just that whole game was a lot of fun.

Q: What is your favorite holiday?

A: Halloween,…

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October 13, 2018

Senior Nick Ciaccia won the men’s individual title and East Carolina claimed second place in both the men’s and women’s races at the Pirate Invitational held Friday at Overton’s Lake Kristi in Grimesland.

Ciaccia ran an 8K time of 24 minutes, 34.46 seconds, which tied…

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October 13, 2018

These three questions appeared in The Daily Reflector’s Pirate Gameday preview for the Houston and East Carolina game, which kicks off at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium at 7 p.m.

Check back after the game for answers to the questions and more insight from the American Athletic Conference night matchup.…

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October 13, 2018

PHILADELPHIA — More than anything, Jerry Horner wanted to check in on his grandchildren.

It has been an emotional and difficult year for the Horner family, dealing with the declining health of Jerry’s son, Ben, Ben’s battle with post-traumatic stress disorder and ultimately his…

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October 13, 2018

The timing of East Carolina football facing its most daunting stretch of American Athletic Conference games comes one week after the Pirates were thumped, 49-6, at Temple.

An ECU team (2-3 overall) looking to prove that score was an aberration and not a trend begins a challenging three-game…

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October 12, 2018

Only two American Athletic Conference teams this season are scheduled to face Houston and Central Florida in consecutive weeks.

East Carolina gets the first shot at the difficult two-week swing, beginning Saturday night with Houston coming to Greenville, and Temple faces it in November. The Owls…

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