This certainly wasn’t the season this senior class for East Carolina baseball envisioned at the start.
Still, through good and bad, this Pirate team continues to battle and still has a chance to add to its legacy.
No matter what happens the rest of the way, this 2017 senior class is one for the books.
“They have had a great career,” said ECU coach Cliff Godwin after the 3-2, 11-inning, series-clinching win over Memphis on Sunday. “Regardless of what happens this year. They are responsible for the culture of this baseball program, both on and off the field. You’re talking about a group that has had (a GPA of) 3.42, a 3.2, a 3.4 and over a 3.1 this year.
“They’ve won a conference championship and were inches away from making it to the College World Series, winning a regional championship. No matter what happens on the baseball field these guys are going to be winners in life.”
Passion will be abundant Tuesday night as the Pirates honor their nine-member senior class in the 6:30 p.m. home finale against Campbell.
“It’s going to be emotional,” said Eric Tyler, who’s on-base streak has now reached 38 games. “We have been together so long and I love these guys like my brothers. These guys will be in my wedding. It hasn’t hit me yet but I’m sure it will soon.”
Sunday’s win moves ECU just a game out of the 7th spot in the American as far as seeding goes for the tournament. With one weekend to go, there is scenario where the Pirates could finish as high as sixth, though that’s unlikely. Should ECU and Cincinnati tie in the sixth slot, the Pirates have the tiebreaker with the series win.
ECU needs to get one more win this weekend than Memphis in order to take the seventh seed. The Pirates also own that tiebreaker with the series win over the Tigers. ECU visits Connecticut, a team that swept the Pirates in Greenville. Memphis plays host to Tulane.
The Pirates’ ultimate goal at this point is to be playing their best baseball at the American tournament in Clearwater, FL, next week.
There are continued signs that this team is trending in the right direction.
“I felt like that was old Pirate baseball where we pitched in the clutch,” said Coach Godwin after Sunday’s win. “What Matt Bridges and West Covington did out of the bullpen was tremendous. Turner Brown (who got the winning hit) is a guy who comes to the park every day and plays his butt off. They all do things the right way and all deserve success.”
Tyler agrees that the signs are positive.
“It was incredible,” said Tyler. “For us to come out here and battle, because it wasn’t an easy game. It showed a lot of heart to bounce back after taking one on the chin last night. That’s our kind of baseball right there.”
That’s the kind of baseball that wins championships.
That’s the kind of baseball that Cliff Godwin’s program is known for.
Godwin knows he has a lot to be thankful for with this senior class.
“They will always hold a special place in my heart for the memories they have given me and our baseball program,” said a sentimental Godwin.
On a personal note, this senior class will go down in my book as one of the best, both on and off the field.
When I think of some of them I think:
- Eric Tyler — His hustle and on base streak his senior year. The guy reminds me of Fred Flintstone, and I mean that as a positive. One of the all-time great guys in the Pirate program.
- Charlie Yorgen — His success with “Mustache March”, and how he invited me to participate. I hated the ‘stache, but enjoyed helping out the guys for a great cause that’s so close to the Pirate program, ALS.
- Jacob Wolfe — Mr. Mustache March. He had the best ‘stache of them all!
- Evan Kruczynkski — His confidence and the confidence he gave his team, that they could win every single start that he made.
- Wesley Phillips — His hustle and clutch hits in his senior season.
- Kirk Morgan — His unselfishness. A guy who could have probably played anywhere in the country, but he accepted his role and turned into a solid midweek pitcher.
- Luke Bolka — Who could ever forget the home run in the American Tournament in 2015. Quite simply, it set the tone.
- Bryce Harman — A boy in a man’s body. Always a great guy, especially to my step-daughter who has a crush on the Pirate first baseman.
- Travis Watkins — The shot heard ’round the Pirate Nation in Charlottesville last year in the NCAA regionals. One of the top moments in my 30-plus year career covering sports.
Thanks guys, for the memories.
Now here’s to making a few more before this thing is over.