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Opponent Preview: East Carolina

Meet the Pirates... Seeking win #30 on the year

COLLEGE BASEBALL: APR 26 East Carolina at N.C. State Photo by Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Who’s the Pack playing?

Opponent: East Carolina

Mascot: Corsairs | School Location: The Ville of Nathaniel Greene, NC | Conference: American

2023 Record: 29-11 (7-5, 3rd) | 2023 RPI Rank: 15

2022 Record: 46-21 (20-4, 1st*) | 2022 RPI Rank: 18

2021 Record: 44-17 (20-8, 1st) | 2021 RPI Rank: 15

*2022 AAC Tournament Champions

When? Where? How do I watch?

Location: Doak Field at Dail Park (Raleigh, NC)

Game Time(s): Tues, Apr 25 @ 6:00pm

TV: Tuesday (ESPNU)

Radio: The Varsity Network (Tuesday)

Live Stats: Sidearm Stats

Tell me about this team

Dang, y’all, we just did this three weeks ago. It’s worth linking that preview here for reference. In case you wanted to know how that game went, here you go.

That game was the start of a nine-game winning streak for ECU where the Pirates looked like world beaters, winning close games, destroying teams by the mercy rule, and everything in between. All of that was done even with Jacob Jenkins-Cowart being knocked out of action for two full weeks shortly after the game.

This past weekend, the Pirates and Pack must have decided that “twinning” was still a thing, as East Carolina went ahead and matched State loss-for-loss on the weekend, getting swept at AAC foe Wichita State and losing their firm lead on the conference race. The two team ECU now trails both have series wins over the Pirates, so the boy in purple will have to catch up two games the rest of the way if they’re going to capture their third straight AAC regular season title.

ECU’s bats went ice cold over the weekend in Kansas, getting shutout twice in three games and totaling just 14 hits across the entire series. Game 1 starter Trey Yesavage didn’t make it out of the 2nd inning, and while Carter Spivey and Josh Grosz did manage to do so in Game 2 and Game 3, respectively, those two gave up a combined 11 earned runs over their outings.

What was shaping up to be a game between two of the hottest teams in the country lost a lot of luster over the weekend. Both squads need this win - NC State more so than ECU right now - so expect a game that already typically features a lot of emotion to hit even higher.

Who’s on the mound for these guys?

Tuesday: LHP Zach Root (FR)

Key Players:


RF Jacob Jenkins-Cowart (SO) - .321/.359/.603, 4.9 BB%, 16.1 K%, 1-1 SB. Returned to action this past weekend (2-for-11, 2B, R, RBI, SF) after a two-week absence due to an injury suffered the weekend after these two played last time (the game where he went berserk with a three homer game).

1B Josh Moylan (JR) - .297/.410/.565, 13.9 BB%, 24.1 K%, 0-1 SB. Has found his power stroke with five homers over the last dozen games, including one against State. The 6’4 lefty hitter is an intense competitor, and also went very 80’s serial killer with his team photo this year, which is hilarious.

C Justin Wilcoxen (JR) - .336/.386/.580, 5.2 BB%, 17.9 K%, 1-1 SB. Raleigh native missed the last game between these two with an injury, but returned immediately after, picking up where he left off. Has thrown out 10-of-28 (35.7%) of attempted base stealers this year, including nabbing 4-of-7 Shockers over the weekend.

LF Lane Hoover (SR) - .308/.427/.385, 13.9 BB%, 11.1 K%, 7-8 SB. The undersized lefty-hitting leadoff man does everything well. Has been on a tear of late, raising his season average from .270 the last time these teams met to .308 now. Has only struck out multiple times in three of 39 games this year... and that K% is a career high for him, so technically he’s struggling with the strikeout (lol).


LHP Zach Root (FR) - 3-1, 1 SV, 3.54 ERA, 28.0 IP, 13.1 BB%, 22.1 K%. Over his last three starts, has gone 8.0 IP, allowing 2 ER on 6 H with 6 BB (yikes) and 8 K. He can be super good when he’s locating pitches.

RHP Garrett Saylor (JR) - 1-0, 0 SV, 3.10 ERA, 20.1 IP, 3.5 BB%, 29.1 K%. Recently returned from a three-plus week absence due to injury. Has pitched 3.0 shutout innings in three appearances since coming back, with 1 BB and 3 K.

RHP Jake Hunter (SO) - 2-1, 0 SV, 3.47 ERA, 23.1 IP, 7.4 BB%, 26.3 K%. Was great against State last time (4.1 IP, 0 BB, 5 K), aside from giving up a 2-run Parker Nolan homer in the 9th. I’d expect to see him again in this one.

Quick! Fun Facts!

Each of these programs have had their own horrendous story of a beloved program figure battling Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Former Wolfpack player Chris Combs and former Pirate skipper Keith LeClair both sadly lost their respective battles with the dreadful disease. Tuesday’s game will be an ALS Awareness event at Doak Field.

Related to Coach LeClair’s battle, I highly recommend reading the book ‘Coaching Third: The Keith LeClair Story’ by Bethany Bradsher. It’s a fantastic read about a great coach and a better man.


This is a tough one to predict. NC State will be mixing up the midweek affair with Sam Highfill slated to take the mound for his first start since April 3, 2022. Highfill only threw 15 pitches on Saturday night, his lone appearance of the weekend. His season high is 58 pitches, and one would assume that’s probably the upper bounds of what the coaching staff will allow him to toss in this one.

So how’s this one going to go? Phew, that’s anyone’s guess. Will ECU’s bats wake up? Or will State finally figure out how to hit with runners in scoring position? The Pirates have the better bullpen, but State’s running out the better starter.

Outcome: Certainly not a game that totals 22 runs like last time. The team with fewer errors ekes out a 5-4 win.