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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
By Brian Bailey
WNCT-TV 9 Sports Director


Pirates on the field, pirates in the streets


By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.


Saturday was one of those magical days that make me so thankful the good Lord stationed me in Eastern North Carolina for all of these years.

My day started with the annual “Walk to Defeat ALS.” I had the privilege of serving as emcee for the opening ceremonies. I got the chance to reflect on former East Carolina baseball Coach Keith LeClair’s battle with the dreaded disease.

So many continue to fight for a cure for the disease that took Coach LeClair from us far too early. There were hundreds taking part in the walk that raised money to help families in their own individual battles.

My next stop was with the Exceptional Community Baseball League. We play most Saturdays in the spring at the Sarah Vaughn Field of Dreams. I have often said that the members of this group do much more for me than I could ever do for them.

All associated with the ECBL have a great time, and will be playing our annual game with the ECU baseball team in May. Coach Billy Godwin and his staff and players bend over backwards to work with our players in the ECBL each season.

Next up was the “Great Pirate Purple Gold Pigskin Pig-out Party.” I’ve been a part of all but the very first one and have always thought it was a brilliant idea from the very start. So many Pirate fans were out eating bar-b-cue and enjoying the Pirate fellowship. Add in a beautiful day of weather and you couldn’t ask for more.

The crown jewel of “Pig-out Party” is always the annual spring football game.

I thought the spring game was one of the best I’ve seen. Most of the time it’s a fairly vanilla mix on offense, with the defense dominating. This year was different, with the offense making several big plays.

Shane Carden is obviously the Pirate quarterback. He played sparingly, giving way to redshirt freshman Kurt Benkurt, who had a big day.

“I was just talking with (former Pirate quarterback) Dominique Davis,” said Carden. “He saw that I was out early and he laughed because he remembered when he was a rising senior. I want to play but I understand.”

Carden’s understudy was the story of the spring game. Benkert threw a pair of touchdown passes as a part of a 9-of-13, 133-yard afternoon through the air. Benkert threw an absolute laser to former Washington High School star Jimmy Williams on a 45-yard touchdown pass. He followed that up later with a short strike on a slant to Cam Worthy.

Overall, Pirate coach Ruffin McNeill liked what he saw.

"We get three full-contact days and I liked the way we progressed in each three," McNeill said. "I thought our offense really came along. They did a great job getting everything together and really got better in the protection and the run game.”

The Pirate quarterbacks were a collective 24-of-35 for 245 yards and four touchdowns.

The Saturday fun continued with a visit to “Piratefest” in uptown Greenville.

Funny thing about some of these ‘Blackbeards’ — I think a few of them think they really are pirates.

I even had a chance to visit with a couple of mermaids to cap off a great Saturday.

Where else can you see Pirates on the football field and pirates roaming the streets on the same day?

Only in Greenville, NC, and I am thankful that I get the chance to live in such a great place.

What a day!

Now if football season would just hurry up and get here.


E-mail Brian Bailey.

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