ON PIRATE SPORTS
From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
By Brian Bailey
Rough regional doesn't alter ultimate goal
By Brian Bailey
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East Carolinaís baseball
season ended in a misty fog on a Saturday night in the NCAA regionals in
Sure, the Pirates did stick
around for a Sunday game in the loserís bracket, but the damage was done.
11-10 victory over East Carolina on
Saturday was as demoralizing a loss as Iíve ever seen any team go through in
It was a great college
baseball game in an outstanding atmosphere. The underdog Pirates built a
couple of leads, only to find the Tar Heels clawing their way back.
East Carolinaís last lead was
10-8 going to the bottom of the ninth. It was all set up for the Shane
Matthews to deliver the knockout blow.
couldnít find the strike zone. A most inconsistent umpire didnít help
things. Just ask UNC-Chapel Hill pitching coach Scott Forbes, who was
ejected earlier in the game for arguing balls and strikes.
A couple of walks started the
comeback. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners over, Matthews uncorked
the wildest of pitches, a one-hopper behind the batter. It would have been
much better to hit the batter then to unload that baby, which cut the lead
Thatís when the hit parade
started, and the Carolina comeback was on.
Matthews was off of his game,
and thatís a shame, because this team wouldnít have won 40 games without
Many have second-guessed
Pirate coach Billy Godwin on his decision to bring Matthews in. However,
thatís been a winning formula all year long.
Matthews wasnít the only
Pirate to struggle. East Carolina committed four errors in the game.
Defensive replacement Dale
Mollenhauer had two miscues, coming back from that broken hand. Again, there
was second-guessing by many.
I watched Mollenhauer at
practice and he looked good in simulated scrimmages. I really donít think it
was the hand as much as maybe some rust. Again, East Carolina doesnít win 40
games without Mollenhauer at shortstop.
After the game, Coach Billy
Godwin said he would do the same thing again. Mollenhauer is a winner, and
you hate for his season to end the way it did.
Billy Godwin wasnít around for
the ending on Saturday. Godwin was tossed after arguing a call with the same
second base umpire that had already tossed the Tar Heel assistant from the
That play was a tag play on a
sacrifice fly involving Corey Kemp. Hereís what I saw: The ball was hit deep
to right field. I thought Kemp was especially careful to tag after the
catch, because he knew he had time because the ball was so deep.
However, when the ball got
back to the infield, the umpire raised his fist at second, indicating that
Kemp left early.
Godwin was livid. He threw his
hat high into the air, and when he did, he got the thumb. From my vantage
point it was simply a terrible call, made by a power hungry umpire looking
for attention in an NCAA regional.
While Iím complaining about
the umps, the ECU-UNC game was another example where the strike zone was
inconsistent for both teams. That may have led to Alex Whiteís problems.
White was dominating against Virginia in the ACC tournament, but the Pirates
were able to rough him up pretty well.
East Carolina was knocked out
of the regionals in a
9-5 loss to Western Carolina. The
highlight was Stephen Battís two-run homer, which extended his school record
hitting streak to 29 games.
It certainly wasnít the way
the Pirates wanted to go out.
The goal is Omaha. There is
more work to be done. Still, you have to think this team took positive steps
towards someday realizing that goal of making it to the College Baseball
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06/05/2007 03:34:23 AM