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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, May 8, 2012

By Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey

Sweep propels ECU down home stretch

Pivotal play in weekend's success reminiscent of Hollywood script


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Brian BaileyReplay Monday night's BRIAN BAILEY SHOW. East Carolina Assistant AD for Internal Affairs and former head baseball coach DR. GARY OVERTON was Brian's guest. Eastern North Carolina's longest running sports radio call-in show airs each Monday night at 7 p.m. on Pirate Radio 1250 and 930.
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By Brian Bailey
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East Carolina got its much needed sweep over Marshall this weekend. It was a struggle, but somehow the Pirates won all three games in the series.

After a relatively painless 8-2 win on Friday night, the Pirates had their backs to the wall in Saturday’s game. The Thundering Herd benefitted from a most questionable call on a bases-loaded ground ball past third in the 8th inning. From my vantage point the ball was well foul.

Corey Thompson usually doesn’t argue, and he was jumping up and down in protest.  The ball certainly looked foul, was signaled fair, and the Herd collected a trio of runs.

Still, the Pirates were able to plate a pair in the ninth to force extra innings. The tying run actually came on a passed ball.

In the climactic 10th frame, with a runner at third and two out, it looked like ECU coach Billy Godwin took a page out of the movie “Major League” and called for the two-out bunt.

Of course, in the movie the bunter is aging catcher Jake Taylor, who calls his shot and then lays one down on the Yankees' infield. Willie “Mays” Hayes runs with the pitch from second base. He doesn’t stop at third and slides in with the winning run.

Coach Godwin laughed when I suggested he copied the movie.

“In the movie he started from second,” said Godwin with a smile on his face. “We saw their infield back and we knew Phillip (Clark) could get the ball down. With his speed we liked his odds and it worked out.”

The thrilling 8-7 finish put the sweep within range.

On Sunday, the Pirates got a great boost from the bat of Zach Wright, who’s three-run double was the difference in the 6-3 win.

East Carolina now faces five big games this week. The Pirates host Elon and North Carolina before hitting the road to take on Southern Mississippi this weekend.

“It’s a big week, there’s no doubt about it,” said Godwin. “We just want to go out and play our best baseball this time of the year.”

Andy Smithmyer will get start for the Pirates against Elon. East Carolina will once again start Jeff Hoffman against the Tar Heels.

Hoffman was brilliant against the Heels two weeks ago. The freshman held the Tar Heels to just five hits in seven scoreless innings of work. He struck out five and walked just one in the no decision. The Pirates lost the game in Chapel Hill 1-0 in ten innings.

Also from ECU baseball, closer Drew Reynolds was named to the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award watch list on Monday.

Frankly, I never knew such an award existed. Only 20 players were named to the list, and the way Reynolds has played this year you have to like his chances.

“It says a lot about just how valuable Drew has been to our team,” said Godwin about the honor. “He has had a great season for us. For a guy to come in here as an infielder last year, he has worked hard and is a big part of what we do.”

Reynolds is the only Conference USA player on the list. He currently ranks among the league leaders with a .350 batting average and with 57 hits. He shares the C-USA lead in saves with ten.

This past weekend Reynolds hit .538. He was 4-for-5 in Sunday’s win over Marshall. He also pitched a scoreless ninth inning to collect that tenth save.

The regular season is quickly winding down. After the Pirates' midweek home games with Elon and North Carolina, their weekend set at Southern Miss will wind up the conference slate.

East Carolina faces High Point next Tuesday in the home finale and travels to Virginia Military Institute and Virginia Commonwealth next weekend. Then it’s on to Pearl, Mississippi, for the C-USA Tournament. The next stop after that is the NCAA playoffs.

The season is winding down, and the Pirates can’t afford to leave any wins on the table.

E-mail Brian Bailey.

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05/08/2012 03:32 AM


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