The warming weather of spring is heating up the Pirate bats and the arm of Jeff Hoffman after their 3-0 victory over North Carolina Central on Friday.
“I just commanded the fastball in and out. They didn’t hit the fastball,” said starter Jeff Hoffman. “They really didn’t have a chance.”
The Pirates jumped on top early with an RBI double by third baseman Zach Houchins, scoring Bryan Bass from second.
Two innings later, the Pirate bats were ignited by a Jay Cannon single followed a pitch later by a Houchins triple to the gap in right-center. The Pirates would string together three more hits and tack on two runs in the inning.
NC Central starter Michael Romano would pitch well after the third, allowing four more hits and keep the Pirates out of the run column. However, Hoffman would prove untouchable and give up just one hit and three walks through nine innings.
“It starts with pitching. A one hit complete game shutout…that says enough,” said ECU coach Billy Godwin. “Jeff did a good job holding his composure. He just settled in and started pounding the zone.”
Houchins, one hit away from the cycle, stepped up to bat in the seventh. With a 2-1 count, the Pirate third baseman rocketed one to right-center, but right fielder Ronald Thompson would make the catch a few feet shy of the warning track. Chris Gosik, Travis Watkins and Chase McDonald would also collect two hits on the day.
“It does a lot for our confidence. This is a game of streaks and slumps,” said Godwin. “Confidence is such a huge part of our game. I was really pleased with our effort and getting the W here.”
With the win, ECU put an end to NC Central’s (18-10) nine-game winning streak and improved its record to 13-14 on the season.
Tomorrow, ECU will shoot for a .500 record in the second game of the series at NC Central Saturday at 3 p.m.