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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
By Brian Bailey

Pirates and umps strike out

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.


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East Carolina had battled and won against elite programs this season. It just didn’t happen this weekend against 8th-ranked Rice.

The Pirates did a lot of things well enough to beat many teams throughout the weekend. Rice, however, seemed to always have an answer in taking all three games of the series.

“It’s certainly disappointing,” said Pirate coach Billy Godwin after Sunday’s 8-6 loss. “We’ve got to give Rice a lot of credit. They have a good club. But we play a lot of good clubs this year. We just didn’t get any results this weekend.

"It’s disheartening, but we’ve got a lot of baseball to play. We are 21-12, and that’s nothing to hang your head about. I thing the toughest part of our schedule is behind us. We’ve just got to dig deep within and find out what works for us and come back and be ready to play UNC Wilmington on Wednesday night.”

Rarely do you see a three-game series in whch the umpires are so much a part of the action. These three really struggled in the series. That’s not sour grapes. That’s just the reality of what I saw in all three games.

ECU assistant coach Link Jarrett got his money’s worth when he was ejected during Friday night’s game. Link was arguing a check swing call, but you could tell by his mannerisms just what he thought of the strike zone that night.

Saturday featured a weird call at third on a play in which Harrison Eldridge was called out. Eldridge didn’t slide, when he probably should have. He over ran the bag but was obviously safe getting back. There was a swipe tag by the catcher covering third as he went in, but that didn’t look like an out either. But sure enough, after a delay, the umpire gave the out call.

On Sunday, the Pirates tried to score a runner from third on a fly ball to right field. Corey Kemp clearly slid under the tag. The call was out. Video replays show just how bad the call was.

Everybody misses on now and then. This crew just seemed to make a habit of it.

On Sunday, between the ECU bench, the Rice bench and the Pirate fans, the home plate umpire had an Easter basket full of complaints. That’s my point. If everyone is complaining then somebody has to be right in doing so.

I knew Coach Godwin couldn’t comment, but the reporter in me said that I had to ask. As expected, Godwin just shook his head and said, “No comment.”

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. Rice beat East Carolina in all three games. Umpires don’t want to be part of the process, but this crew stood out like rotting fish on the beach. I’ve truly never seen a strike zone that was so inconsistent with all three umpires over the three days.

Rice may very well be the class of Conference USA.

“They have good players, that’s what makes them tough,” said Godwin. “They have great tradition. They expect to win. Much like we’ve seen our team this year, when they get down they aren’t going to quit; you have to know that, and we’ve seen our team do that too.”

Godwin continued, “It was two good programs going at each other and we just came out on the short end. I don’t really want to over-analyze it. Somehow, I’ve got to get these guys to believe in themselves again, and that’s got to take place between now and Wednesday.”

Wednesday will be a difficult assignment after the Pirates' come from behind win in Greenville last week.

“It will be another good opportunity,” said Godwin. “We get a chance to go on the road and play in a great environment. They have a good program and we’ll have our hands full.”

Maybe both teams will get a better effort from the men in blue this time out.


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04/21/2008 07:02:15 PM


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