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


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.


Humans of Greenville


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


June 20, 2018

The anticipated arrival of most of the freshman class for the East Carolina basketball team coincides this week with the start of the university’s second summer session of classes.

Five of the six recruits, excluding 7-foot-2 Bosnia native Milan Stakic, are slated to begin classes and…


June 19, 2018

A pair of East Carolina women’s basketball recruits, who will join the team this week along with two others, were recently named to All-Star teams in their respective states.

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June 19, 2018

The time just after former East Carolina pole vaulter Brie Berkowitz completed her master’s degree at ECU was defined by a series of internships.

She did broadcasting for football camps, coordinated travel for various teams with the Miami Hurricanes and worked in sales and marketing for the…


June 18, 2018

The consistency shown by East Carolina football coaches was key during the recruitment of Farmville Central rising senior defensive lineman Keziah Everett and that led to Everett verbally committing to the Pirates on Monday.

He chose ECU over North Carolina and Virginia. The Pirates were the first…


June 17, 2018

The United States team completed a dominant run at the FIBA Americas U18 basketball tournament in Ontario, Canada, on Saturday night with a 113-74 victory against the host Canadian squad to take the gold medal.

East Carolina first-year coach Joe Dooley helped pick the team, which was led…

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June 16, 2018

East Carolina sophomore outfielder Bryant Packard earned his school-record seventh All-America honor after being named a first-teamer by the American Baseball Coaches Association on Saturday.

Packard led ECU in seven offensive categories, including batting average (.406) to rank seventh nationally.…


June 15, 2018

East Carolina first-year coach Joe Dooley played in part in assembling the roster for the USA Basketball U18 National Team that could be on a collision course to face host team Canada this weekend in the championship game of the FIBA Americas tournament.

Dooley was a court coach during…


June 14, 2018

To many in the world of women’s basketball, Anne Donovan was a giant. And not just because she stood 6-foot-8.

She won a national championship at Old Dominion, two Olympic gold medals as a player and another as a coach in her storied career. She died Wednesday and people in Greenville…

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June 13, 2018

Anne Donovan, the Basketball Hall of Famer and former East Carolina women’s head coach who won a national championship at Old Dominion, two Olympic gold medals in the 1980s and coached the U.S. to gold in 2008, died Wednesday of heart failure. She was 56.

On her rise to prominence, Donovan…

June 12, 2018

Reality set in for East Carolina shot put standout Galissia Cause during her hotel check-in last week in Eugene, Ore., for the track and field NCAA Outdoor Championships.

She competed at the NCAA East Regional meet in all four of her seasons, but only this year did the senior make it past…

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