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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
By Brian Bailey

UCLA next in Pirates' marathon quest

By Brian Bailey
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I’ve been talking and writing about opening day for East Carolina baseball for several weeks.

I can’t remember ever missing an opening day since my first back in 1985.

I learned quickly when I first arrived in Greenville that Pirate baseball was very important to the sports community. We have always covered it like that at WNCT-TV.

I spent part of my afternoon on the day before opening day conducting a short interview with ECU head coach Billy Godwin. The Pirates were going through a light workout on the eve before the first game.

That night, the dreaded stomach flu hit me just before the 11:20 sportscast. Somehow, we got thru the segment in the newscast.

For those of you that have had it, I feel your pain. It was the absolute worst sickness that I’ve had in my 44 years. I spent opening day listening to the broadcasts from bed.

The Pirates lost in that first game and I know that Coach Godwin and company were disappointed. I was scheduled to interview Coach Godwin live after the game, so my assistant, Brad Lewis took over the assignment.

A dejected Godwin said, “We’ve kind of gotten over the fact now that we’re not going to be undefeated this season.”

Liberty’s Errol Hollinger hit a grand slam in the opener, and the Pirates really never recovered in that first game.

I made it to most of Saturday’s game, in which East Carolina bounced back with a victory.

That set up Sunday’s rubber game of the series. Dale Mollenhauer put it out of reach with a grand slam. The Pirates took two out of three from a pesky Liberty team that had won 39 games in 2006.

“We take away a series win,” said Godwin on Sunday. “If we win every series then we’ll have a good year. We just have to build on it. We can’t get too high or too low. The season is definitely a marathon, and not a sprint.”

Although T.J. Hose struggled on Friday, the Pirate pitching staff gets high marks on the weekend. Jeff Ostrander made five starts in 2005 and then missed all of ’06 with Tommy John surgery. He found his groove after the first couple of frames.

Dustin Sasser was clutch on Sunday, controlling the Flames in scattering five hits and giving up just one earned run in picking up that victory.

“Pitching on Sunday, I just get a chance to really see the hitters in a series,” said Sasser. “I just thought that I needed to get ahead, and then use my off speed late.”

Godwin couldn’t have been any more pleased.

“He (Sasser) was outstanding. His fastball was down in the zone. He had great command of his change up. If he pitches like that through out the year then he’ll have a great season.”

On offense, the Pirates banged out 15 hits on Sunday. Leadoff hitter Harrison Eldridge led the way with four. For Eldridge, it was just part of an outstanding opening weekend.

“I like leading off,” said Eldridge. “My job is to get on base. I need to see a lot of pitches at the plate.”

“This was definitely a team effort," noted Eldridge. "I’m pretty pleased that I did well myself but I don’t take credit for anything I do, it’s all a team effort.”

Now the Pirates head west to UCLA. It’s a trip that this entire program is eagerly anticipating.

“We are looking forward to it,” said Eldridge. “We know UCLA has a tough ball club and we’re anxious to see what we can do.”

The Pirate Nation is anxious as well. This past weekend wasn’t a perfect start, but it was a series win.

As Coach Godwin said, if the Pirates can win every series, then it will be a good season!


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04/21/2008 07:04:24 PM


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