GREENVILLE, N.C. – Memphis (25-17, 8-7 C-USA) travels to East Carolina (21-20, 6-6 C-USA) for a key Conference USA series at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium this weekend.
Head Coach Daron Schoenrock and staff have mixed up the rotation and will send LHP Erik Schoenrock (5-3, 2.87 ERA) to the hill on Friday at 5:00 p.m. (CT). Schoenrock will be opposed by the Pirates RHP Jeff Hoffman (4-4, 2.84 ERA) in the series opener.
LHP Sam Moll (6-3, 2.42 ERA) gets the starting nod on Saturday in game two of the series at 1:00 p.m. (CT). The southpaw will be opposed by East Carolina’s RHP David Lucroy (4-1, 2.01 ERA). The series finale pits LHP Alex Gunn (3-2, 1.95 ERA) versus RHP Ryan Williams (5-2, 4.32 ERA) on Sunday at noon (CT).
The Inside Edge – East Carolina East Carolina has reeled off four-straight wins to improve to 21-20 on the season. The Pirates won in dramatic fashion on Tuesday, 8-5, over Elon scoring five runs in the bottom of the ninth with the help of a three-run, walk-off blast by Ben Fultz. Offensively, the Pirates hit .262 with 25 home runs and 181 RBI. Travis Watkins leads the way with a .284 average. Chase McDonald hits .254 and leads the club with six home runs and 28 RBI. The Pirates are 29-46 on stolen bases this season with Jack Reinheimer leading the team with six. On the mound, ECU sports a 4.15 ERA with 281 strikeouts and 161 walks in 375 innings pitched. Drew Reynolds, who hits .274 as a designated hitter, has eight saves on the season with a 2.73 ERA in 19 appearances and 29.2 innings.
Two Out Hitting Spark Over the last 15 games in which the Tigers have a 11-4 record, Memphis is hitting .280 (44-157) with two outs in an inning, picking up 32 RBI. In the first 27 games of the season, the Tigers were hitting .228 (62-272), driving in 42 runs with two outs in an inning.
Answering the Call Memphis closer Jonathan Van Eaton has eight saves on the season, with the seventh of which setting a new career saves record at the University of Memphis. Van Eaton has 16 career saves after closing out Ole Miss on April 15 at AutoZone Park. With eight saves this season, Van Eaton has equaled his save total from 2012, which ranks tied for second among single-season leaders in program history. The NCBWA recognized Van Eaton’s work, naming him to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Midseason Watch List.
Nail Biters Memphis has played 22 games decided by two runs or less and is 10-12 in those games. Under head coach Daron Schoenrock, the U of M is 95-116 in games decided by two runs or less.
Ducks on the Pond Memphis has had 54 official at-bats with the bases full this season. The Tigers have mustered 14 hits in the situation, but have left the bases loaded in two of the losses this season. The Tigers have struck out nine times with the bases full, six of the nine via swing and miss strikeouts. Bryce Beeler is 3-for-4 with the sacks full this season while Jake Little is 2-for-3. Ford Wilson is 2-for-5 while Ethan Gross is 2-for-7. Drew Griffin is 2-for-9 in the situation and Nate Rupiper is 1-for-3. Zach Willis (1-for-6) and Corey Chafin (1-for-1) have the other two Tigers hits when the bases are loaded.
Ironman Shortstop Ethan Gross has made 135 consecutive starts dating back to the second game of a doubleheader at East Carolina on March 26, 2011. If Gross starts each scheduled game this season he would tie the record for consecutive games started, which is held by Mike Dlugach (149).
Lineup Move Paying Off Head Coach Daron Schoenrock moved freshman outfielder Jake Little to the nine-spot in the lineup in game two of the series against UCF. Since that move, Little has hit at the bottom of the order in eight games and the Tigers are 5-3 in those games. Little sports a .500 average, going 13-for-26 with four doubles, a triple, 11 RBI and two runs scored.
Getting Runners on Base Last season, when Memphis had 14 or more runners reach base in a game, the Tigers had a record of 26-15. On the other side, when the U of M had 13 or fewer base runners in a game, Memphis had a 5-13 mark. So far in 2013, Memphis is 20-8 when 14 or more reach base and 5-9 when having 13 or fewer base runners in a game.
Parade of Lefties The Tigers have played 42 games this season and the U of M has sent a left-handed starter to the hill in 40 of those games. Memphis started a lefty in the first 32 games before right-hander Dylan Toscano started against UAPB on April 10. Toscano has since made two starts, allowing two hits over nine innings of work.
Speaking of Records Not only is the pitching staff on a record pace, but the ace of the staff has a couple of top-five marks in sight. Sam Moll has 189 career strikeouts and could become the eighth pitcher to top 200 career strikeouts in a career. Moll’s 189 career strikeouts rank him tied for ninth all-time. With 82 strikeouts this season, Moll is on pace 115 this season, which would rank second for single-season strikeouts.