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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, May 26, 2008

By Brian Bailey

Clark-LeClair gets its day in the sun

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

For those who worked so hard to build Clark-LeClair Stadium, Friday will be a most emotional day.

The stadium was built to give East Carolina a home in the postseason. Now, the Pirates will get a chance to show off their jewel in the NCAA baseball tournament.

East Carolina will welcome South Carolina, George Mason and Binghamton to Greenville beginning on Thursday for the teams' practices, and then for the first day of action on Friday.

The Pirates were a bit of a surprise as an NCAA host, and maybe a surprise as a number one seed. Either way, Pirate coach Billy Godwin was fired up just after ESPN’s selection show on Monday.

“Isn’t this a great day to be a Pirate,” Godwin told the assembled crowd of Pirates, administrators and media. “I’m so excited for our players who have worked so hard and for our fans and administration that we’re able to play these games at Clark-LeClair.”

The rich baseball history at East Carolina adds a chapter this coming weekend. The Pirates will make their 24th NCAA Regional appearance and 10th in the last 11 years.

It is the fifth time that ECU has been a number one seed.

It’s the third time the Pirates will host a regional, but it’s the first in Greenville. ECU also hosted in Wilson in 2001 and in Kinston in 2004.

“It’s a big honor to be the team that did bring a regional to Clark-LeClair,” said Godwin. “This team understands the history here at ECU. We hope to continue to add to that history.”

The Pirates take on Binghamton on Friday in the night game (7 p.m.). The Bearcats are coached by Tim Sinicki.

Coincidentally, Sinicki played his college ball with one of the namesakes of the facility where his team will play its first-ever NCAA regional game. He was a teammate of former ECU coach Keith LeClair at Western Carolina. Sinicki was a pitcher with the Catamounts and helped lead them to back-to-back NCAA regional appearances.

"East Carolina has a tremendous tradition and they have been very successful over the years," Sinicki said in his school’s tournament release. "Greenville is a great college town and I'm sure they will support their team and make it a tremendous atmosphere. Our guys are looking forward to the challenge. They are still flying high after the weekend.

"We are all very excited and proud to have this opportunity to represent Binghamton and the America East."

South Carolina and George Mason will match up in Friday’s first game (3 p.m.).

Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner has certainly seen his share of East Carolina through the years. Tanner is in his 13th season at South Carolina. Before that he spent nine years at N.C. State.

“I’m excited about going to Greenville,” Tanner said. “Our team won 11 of 12 before the SEC tournament to get into this conversation."

“I’ve been to East Carolina plenty of times,” Tanner added. “I played there growing up a little bit. We played there when I was at N.C. State. Billy Godwin has done a great job and with that facility, they deserve to be a host after winning the regular season championship in Conference USA. We’re just excited to be a part of it.”

This weekend’s regional winners match up in the NCAA Super Regionals. The ECU regional is paired with the UNC-Chapel Hill regional.

The final destination is Omaha. This year, the journey for East Carolina begins at home.

Clark-LeClair was built to host. Now, East Carolina’s jewel of a diamond will get that shot!


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05/26/2009 12:44:49 AM


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