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College Sports in the Carolinas

View from the East
Monday, May 31, 2004

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

No looking back as Grainger beckons


Will North Carolina or N.C. State be assigned to the NCAA Tournament baseball regional being hosted by East Carolina in Kinston? Will the Pirates be a top eight seed nationally?

Many Pirate fans will be watching the selection show at noon on ESPN 2 for answers today.

The Tar Heels or Wolfpack could be ECU’s guests because of the preference of the NCAA selection committee for keeping teams close to home. The committee tries to avoid sending two teams from the same league to a regional, so one, but not both, of the in-state ACC schools could be traveling down Highway 70.

I noticed that Coach Keith LeClair figures UNC will get the nod for Kinston because the Heels and the Pirates didn’t match up during the regular season. Charlie Carr, senior associate athletics director at Florida State, is chairman of the NCAA’s baseball committee. Carr played football and baseball at UNC and was an athletics administrator at ECU before accompanying former Pirates AD Dave Hart to Tallahassee. Former ECU AD Mike Hamrick, now at Nevada-Las Vegas, is a member of the selection committee.

The NCAA committee’s emphasis on teams’ ratings power index and recent performance doesn’t create optimism for a top eight seeding nationally for the Pirates. ECU is in the mid teens nationally in RPI and finished the regular season with losses in four of its last seven games, including 1-2 in the Conference USA Tournament.

The only time ECU was really in a must-win situation in that span was when they went to Southern Miss and needed a victory to wrap up the C-USA regular season championship, which they did convincingly in the first game of the series.

ECU’s trip to Houston for the C-USA event was disappointing after an opening win over Louisville that set the school record for victories in a season with 48.

“We kind of decided to forget about this tournament,” said second-year Pirates coach Randy Mazey after losses to Houston and Texas Christian knocked the Pirates out of the double-elimination event. “We’re just looking ahead instead of looking back.”

ECU is basically healthy, Mazey said, except for Darryl Lawhorn, who is day to day with his treatment for a foot ailment.

The Pirates won’t be dwelling on the league tournament and there was better news Sunday with the NCAA’s announcement that ECU will host a regional at Grainger Stadium in Kinston.

ECU had anticipated being on hand for the duration of the C-USA Tournament. The Pirates were scheduled to fly back commercially from Houston on Sunday night. The team will convene today in the Pat Draughon room on the second floor of the Ward Sports Medicine Building to watch the announcements of the rest of the NCAA field on a half-hour program on ESPN 2 at noon.

ECU is scheduled to play at 7 p.m. on Friday in Kinston and the Pirates, in all probability a No. 1 seed, will find out who their first round opponent — a No. 4 seed if ECU is a No. 1 — will be. The Nos. 2 and 3 seeds would play at 3 p.m. on Friday, provided the Pirates are a No. 1 seed.

Game times for Saturday are 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The regional final is 1 p.m. Sunday with a second game, if necessary, scheduled to start 45 minutes after the first game is completed.

ECU interim athletics director Nick Floyd said he anticipates a sellout at the regional. Floyd and staff have been making preparations with Kinston personnel for weeks and received the final go-ahead to put plans in motion on Sunday. Pirates interim sports information director Jody Jones said the Kinston Indians list capacity of the park at 4,100 but, in reality, it is bursting at the seams at 3,500.

Because of a schedule conflict with the K-Tribe the following weekend, ECU has submitted a bid to host a potential super regional at Fleming Stadium in Wilson on June 11-13. The super regional sites are scheduled to be announced on Sunday, June 6, on the 10 p.m. edition of SportsCenter on ESPN.

The Pirates hosted a regional at Wilson in 2001 and a super regional at Kinston the same year.

ECU student pickup for regional ticket books is Tuesday. Any tickets left over from the student pickup or not sold from the allotments to other teams are scheduled to be sold at the ECU ticket office on the south side of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday. Regional ticket books are $48 each.

ECU is assured of its sixth straight trip to the postseason in the NCAA event. Now the Pirates can focus on their goal from the beginning — Omaha.

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02/23/2007 12:45:44 AM

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