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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports
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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, June 3, 2003
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By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

Wilson regional missed out on box office bonanza

©2003 Bonesville.net

Who would have thought that East Carolina would be disappointed in an NCAA baseball regional in which it knocked out the team seeded third in the nation? If you think basketball, it was like stunning a number one seed in March Madness.

Georgia Tech won the ACC championship and the NCAA rewarded the Yellow Jackets with a national seeding of three. But instead of three, the magic number was “two” — as in “two and out” for Tech.

If Stetson snuck up on the Jackets on the region's opening day, the Pirates just knocked them over the head when they eliminated them on Day 2.

“The Natural”, Darryl Lawhorn provided the offensive blow with a grand slam. Pretty soon, the “buzz” around the nation was about Tech being the first out of the Atlanta regional.

I said publicly that I had hoped East Carolina would get into the NCAA’s, but I wasn’t sure that the 33-25-1 regular season mark would get it done. The Pirates' baseball tradition, though, was the benchmark for the berth. The Pirates added to that tradition and history with the victory over Georgia Tech.

It’s certainly not easy getting to the College Baseball World Series in Omaha. However, most coaches feel that this format, which features four team Regionals and 2 team Super Regionals is much more fair then the old six-team regionals.

Former ECU coach Keith LeClair once told me that he certainly liked the newer format. He said it took some of the emphasis on pitching away, that the deepest staff didn’t always win. LeClair had his team in position to host a Super Regional in Kinston a couple of years ago, the closest the Pirates have ever come to making the trip to the CWS.

Much was made about the NCAA’s decision to send Western Carolina to Wilson with host North Carolina State, while sending East Carolina to Atlanta. Western Carolina has a fairly strong alumni base in the Greater Atlanta area, while Wilson is just a stone’s throw away from Greenville.

I certainly was hoping that East Carolina would play in Wilson, but really it wouldn’t have been fair to the top-seeded Wolfpack. Gaining that No. 1 seed and hosting a regional is supposed to provide a huge advantage, as a reward.

Had East Carolina and N.C. State hooked up in Wilson, the home field edge would have belonged to East Carolina for sure.

I don’t know if State voiced an objection, or the ACC, or if anyone fought to keep East Carolina out of Wilson for the regionals. I do know that the fine folks in that tobacco city couldn’t have printed enough tickets to sell, had ECU been invited their way.

The Pirates showed flashes of brilliance at times in 2003. It certainly was a season of ups and downs for first-year coach Randy Mazey.

The off-season should be an interesting one. I hate the winter, but the end of the baseball campaign kind of makes you yearn for February and the beginning of another season at Harrington Field.

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02/23/2007 01:26:11 AM

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