2009 NCAA Regional Preview: Greenville

Ryan Wood and East Carolina host the 2009 Greenville Regional. (East Carolina Photo)
Ryan Wood and East Carolina host the 2009 Greenville Regional. (East Carolina Photo)

East Carolina will host the 2009 Greenville Regional at Clark-LeClair Stadium.  The first game of the regional will be between the two seed, South Carolina Gamecocks, and the three seed, George Mason Patriots, at 3 p.m. ET on Friday.  The host team and one seed, East Carolina, will then take on Binghamton at 7 p.m ET.

The first elimination game is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET on Saturday, and the winner’s bracket championship will be that night at 6 p.m. ET.  The loser’s bracket championship will be Sunday at 2 p.m. ET with the first championship game to follow that evening at 6 p.m. ET.  If necessary, the decisive game seven will be at 6 p.m. ET on Monday.

(1) East Carolina (42-17, 17-7 Conference USA)

The Pirates earned a regional host after winning the Conference USA regular season title with a 17-7 league record.  On the season, the East Carolina offense averages a hefty 8.7 runs per game.  The team is hitting .341 with 95 homeruns, and the Pirates have swiped 70 bases as well.  Second baseman Ryan Wood leads the team in hitting with a stellar .387 average and is second on the team with 13 homeruns.  Outfielder Stephen Batts has a team-leading 14 round-trippers and 18 stolen bases and is second on the team with 61 RBIs.  Designated hitter Kyle Roller is tops on the East Carolina squad with 65 RBIs on the season.

East Carolina has a solid 4.12 team ERA.  Chris Heston is the normal Friday night starter for the Pirates.  On the year, Heston has a perfect 7-0 record with a 3.44 ERA in 86.1 innings of work.  Seth Maness has 14 starts on the year and is 9-1 with a 4.15 ERA in a team high 95.1 innings pitched.  Brad Mincey has 22 appearances, 9 starts, and is 9-5 with a very impressive 2.99 ERA in 72.1 innings.  Closer Seth Simmons has a team high 30 appearances and is 3-1 with 9 saves and a 2.65 ERA in 34 innings on the hill.

East Carolina defense is allowing opponents to score an average of 4.8 runs per contest.  The Pirates are 28-7 at home this season.

(2) South Carolina (38-21, 17-13 SEC)

The Gamecocks earned a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament after a fifth place finish in the SEC with a 17-13 conference record.  South Carolina is scoring an average of 7.4 runs per game this season.  The team has a .305 batting average with 99 homeruns and a total of 43 stolen bases.  Outfielder DeAngelo Mack leads the team in hitting with a .366 average and is second on the team with 14 homeruns and 59 RBIs.  Third baseman Nick Ebert leads the team with an outstanding 22 homeruns and 71 RBIs.  Centerfielder Whit Merrifield is tops on the team with 13 steals in 18 attempts.

The pitching staff has a 5.03 team ERA.  Sam Dyson is the usual Friday night starter for the Gamecocks and has an 8-4 record with a 5.31 ERA in a team high 95 innings on the bump.  Nick Belcher is 4-4 with a 4.83 ERA in 76.1 innings, and Blake Cooper is 8-4 with a 4.79 ERA in 77 innings.  Jay Brown has started and relieved for the Gamecocks, posting a 3-0 record with a 3.30 ERA in 43.2 innings pitched.  Alex Farotto closes out games for South Carolina, and has a 4-2 record with 7 saves and a 4.70 ERA in 19 appearances and 30.2 innings pitched.

Teams are scoring an average of 5.5 runs per game on the season, and the Gamecocks are 11-10 in away games and 1-2 in neutral site games this year.

(3) George Mason (42-12 Overall, 19-5 CAA)

The George Mason Patriots enter the NCAA Tourney with a ridiculous record of 42-12 while dominating CAA play with a 19-5 record. They went 26-3 at home while posting a 12-7 road record.

The Patriots offense is one of the best in the country in the middle as they are led by Chris Henderson, Scott Krieger, and Justin Bour. Henderson leads the team with a .416 average while hitting 14 homers and driving in 54 runs. He has a slugging percentage of .712. Scott Krieger leads the team with 20 homers, 80 RBI, and a slugging percentage of .780. He is also second on the team with a batting average of .378. Justin Bour is third on the squad with a .336 average while hitting 17 homers and 65 RBI.

The George Mason pitching staff sports a team ERA of 4.24. The top starting pitcher is Mike Modica who is 11-1 with a 4.17 ERA in 13 starts. Kevin Crum is also respectable with a 8-3 record and a 4.19 ERA in his 13 starts. George Mason has split the closer’s duties between Ryan Brecko (2-1, 3.92 ERA) and Jordan Flasher (0-1, 4.82 ERA) who each have six saves which is tied for the team lead.

(4) Binghamton (29-20 Overall, 13-7 America East)

The Binghamton Bearcats won the America East title by knocking off Albany in the conference series. They are led by 17th year head coach Tim Sinicki who is making his first appearance in the NCAA Tournament this season. We spoke with Coach Sinicki before the season and you can check out the interview by clicking here.

The Bearcats offense is led by Dave Ciocchi who is hitting .376 with five homers and 33 RBI. The top power threat on the team is Corey Taylor who is hitting .335 with 15 homers and 51 RBI. Jim Calderone is the biggest threat on the base paths with 14 stolen bases in 17 attempts.

Murphy Smith has been the best starting pitcher for the Bearcats this season as he is 7-2 with an ERA of 2.41. Jeff Dennis has the second lowest ERA on the staff at 4.71 but has a record of 5-5. The closer for the Bearcats is Greg Lane who is 5-2 with six saves.