Take on Pirate Sports
From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, June 3, 2003
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9
Wilson regional missed out on
box office bonanza
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
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