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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, May 29, 2012

By Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey

Bubble's bounce fires up Pirates


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Audio recorded by Brian Bailey.

ECU baseball coach Billy Godwin and players Kevin Brandt, Jack Reinheimer, Corey Thompson and Zach Wright discuss the Pirates' selection as No. 2 seed in the Chapel Hill regional:.


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By Brian Bailey
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They were listed as a “bubble team” at the very start of the NCAA Baseball Selection Show. Finally, though, the East Carolina Pirates saw their name on the screen. ECU will head to the 2012 NCAA tournament as the number two seed in the Chapel Hill regional.

“We were extremely nervous,” said senior pitcher Kevin Brandt when asked about watching the pairings come down. “It took 30 minutes but it seemed like a lifetime. We are extremely motivated. From going from not knowing to getting that bid, it is a real boost.” [Select Kevin Brandt audio clip in a new window...]

The Pirates can thank a solid RPI for such a high seeding. There were some thoughts that ECU had played its way out of a two seed down the stretch. There were even those, like the producers of the selection show, who had East Carolina on the bubble.

“We certainly didn’t play the way we are capable of down the stretch and that’s a concern,” said Coach Billy Godwin. “But I think we’re all excited to get this chance. I’m really excited for our players." [Select Billy Godwin audio clip in a new window...]

East Carolina will join St. John’s, Cornell and North Carolina in the four-team grouping at Boshamer Stadium. ECU split games with St. John’s last season up in Charlottesville, falling in the regional opener 2-0, but bouncing back and beating the Red Storm 6-4 to advance to the finals against top seed Virginia.

Oddly enough, the same problem that has plagued East Carolina this season was the story in that opener in Charlottesville a year ago. The Pirates outhit the Red Storm, but couldn’t get that hit when they needed it and were shut out in the opening game.

North Carolina is the overwhelming favorite in this regional. The Tar Heels have won 15 consecutive regional games at home and are a national seed for the sixth time in the last seven years.

The Heels had their 14-game winning streak snapped by Miami in the ACC Tournament. Still, North Carolina has won 15 of its last 16 games. The Heels are gunning for the school’s 10th appearance at the College World Series.

The East Carolina players say they look forward to a potential matchup with North Carolina in the regional. The Tar Heels beat East Carolina 1-0 in 10 innings earlier this season in Chapel Hill. The return visit in Greenville was a washout.

“I guess the baseball gods wanted this to happen because we got rained out in Greenville,” said ECU senior catcher Zach Wright. “I know a lot of those guys from summer league play and we hope to see them again. We all know each other so the winner does get to talk a little junk to them.” [Select Zach Wright audio clip in a new window...]

Though North Carolina has the home field edge, Pirate fans have a track record of turning out in numbers for posteason games between the schools. Such was the case in both of the regionals and the one super-regional involving ECU and the Heels.

“It’s an easy trip,” said Godwin. “We’ll take two days and prepare and we’ll get ready to play in a great field. It’s great for our fans for us to be close by. We have such a tremendous fan base with such passion for our program.”

Godwin shakes off the notion that things haven’t gone so well in Chapel Hill over the years. The Pirates have not won in Chapel Hill since a 7-5 victory on April 27, 1994. This year’s loss was the 14th consecutive loss for ECU in road games against the Tar Heels.

Godwin says those numbers certainly won’t bother his ball club.

“I don’t think they care,” said Godwin. “It sounds like to me that the odds are in our favor.”

East Carolina and St. John’s open the regional on Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. North Carolina and Cornell take the field at 6 p.m.

The Friday losers play at 1 p.m. on Saturday followed by the Friday winners facing off at 6 p.m.

The Pirates admit they have yet to play their best baseball. There’s no time like the present to turn it on and make some noise in Chapel Hill.

The 2012 NCAA Chapel Hill regional schedule:

Friday, June 1

Game 1: (3) St. John’s vs. (2) East Carolina, 1 p.m.
Game 2: (4) Cornell vs. (1) North Carolina, 6 p.m.

Saturday, June 2

Game 3: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 1 p.m.
Game 4: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 6 p.m.

Sunday, June 3

Game 5: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser, 1 p.m.
Game 6: Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 6 p.m.

Monday, June 4

Game 7: Game 6 winner vs. Game 6 loser, 6 p.m. - IF NECESSARY

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05/29/2012 03:59 AM


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