From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By Brian Bailey
WNCT-TV 9 Sports Director

Pirates sputter as league play begins

Audio: Brian Bailey Show
The Brian Bailey Show airs on Pirate Radio 1250 on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. This week's topic was the Conference USA basketball tournament with guest ECU assistant coach Ken Potosnak (left): Replay show...


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By Brian Bailey
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East Carolina was hoping to open its Conference USA slate with a three-game sweep over Marshall.

But after a frustrating weekend, it was the Herd that left Greenville with a series win.

I really don’t think the individual losses bothered Pirate coach Billy Godwin as much as how the Pirates dropped two out of three to Marshall this weekend.

Game one was as frustrating as it gets. Jeff Hoffman, the Pirate ace, just couldn’t get the ball in the strike zone. He started and others contributed to the tune of 11 walks and four hit batsmen by pitching staff.

Despite the 15 free passes, the Pirates rallied and had a shot to pull one out of the fire. This ECU team fell just short, and looked to rebound in game two.

The Pirates did just that doing what this club does best. The Pirates won the second game with pitching and defense. Though they scored just one run, they were winners — 1-0 or 100-0, they all count the same.

That stellar pitching and defense took Sunday off. The Pirates committed four big errors. There were several base-running blunders.

It was ugly baseball.

Godwin was visibly upset, perhaps reaching into his thought process for answers as he addressed the media.

“We are fighting to score runs and we can’t shoot ourselves in the foot,” said Godwin. “Usually when teams score crooked numbers, it’s usually the result of a walk, hit batter or an error, and we did all three. It seems like every mistake is magnified.”

One play late in the game told the story. Drew Reynolds popped up to shallow left field with two on and no out. Two freshmen were the base runners. One got picked off as he couldn’t get back after the shortstop made the relatively routine play. The other runner got picked off by the Marshall catcher.

“They were freshmen but there’s no excuse,” explained Godwin. “They were baseball plays. We talk about it all the time in our program. You can’t make outs on the bases when you are behind. We made two Little League type of mistakes. It’s disappointing but it’s my responsibility and we are going to work as hard as we can to correct it and that’s all we can do.”

The good news is that the Pirates have a quick turnaround. That, of course, could be bad news as well if the mistakes aren’t corrected.

“We are on spring break and we’ve got five games this week,” Godwin continued. “We need a good, fundamental type of workout (Monday). We run the bases every day at practice. We just need to get back out there and get this taste out of our mouth.”

The Pirates host UNC-Greensboro Tuesday and then meet Wake Forest on Wednesday in Wilson.

Pirate hoopsters head to El Paso

The ECU basketball team heads to El Paso as the 12th seed in the Conference USA basketball tournament.

If the Pirates win their opener over 13th seed UTSA, they would then be matched up with host team Texas-El Paso.

ECU coach Jeff Lebo has seen that situation before.

“Anything can happen,” said Lebo before his team headed west. “It will be hard for us because of our lack of depth. If we advance then we get a road game. That happened ... last year when we get a bye and then we get the host team.”

Lebo gave us all a lesson on March Madness with last year’s postseason run for the Pirates. He knows that the odds are long, but not impossible.

“I talked to our team about Syracuse,” said Lebo. “About how they won five games in five days a couple of years back. We are young and used to playing a lot of games. In AAU ball they would play three games in a day, so we certainly are capable.”

Still, Lebo knows his team has to improve on its performance down the stretch.

“We have to play better than we did in our last game,” Lebo said. “We have to put the ball in the basket. When we have played well we have been able to distribute the basketball. This is a tough way to end it. Going on the road like we did and now going to El Paso to finish up. Our kids have been resilient and I think we will play well.”


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