CAROLINA & CONFERENCE USA
View from the East
Friday, June 1, 2012
By Al Myatt
Storm clouds Pirates' opener
All rights reserved.
to Box Score /
View the Mobile Alpha version of this page.
ECU coach Billy Godwin
spoke with the media after the Pirates' loss
to St. John's (recorded by Brian Bailey):
SELECT AUDIO CLIP.,.
St. John's takes the fifth
en route to rout
View the Chapel Hill
Regional Schedule in a New Window
CHAPEL HILL — Third-seeded
St. John's used a bloop and a blunder in the fifth inning to begin
pulling away from second-seeded East Carolina in the opening game of the
Chapel Hill regional in the NCAA baseball tournament on Friday.
The Red Storm expanded
their lead from 2-0 to 5-0 in the decisive frame and eventually subdued
the Pirates with unexpected ease, 11-3.
ECU freshman starter Jeff
Hoffman gave way to Andy Smithmyer with one out and runners at second
and third in the top of the fifth. Matt Wessinger, the Storm's leading
hitter with a .359 average, was the first to face Smithmyer. He dropped
a flare over Pirates first baseman Chase McDonald that descended about a
foot inside the right field line. That scored a run for a 3-0 lead.
Two more runs came in when
Frank Schwindel singled and ECU left fielder John Wooten rifled a throw
past third baseman Corey Thompson that turned into a pinball adventure.
The Pirates went from
being within realistic striking distance to fullscale catch-up mode.
Smithmyer buckled down to
strand Schwindel with a pop-up and a strikeout before ECU senior catcher
Zach Wright laced a leadoff double in the bottom of the fifth.
The opportunity for an
answer to the three-run inning by the Red Storm imploded with a lapse in
judgment from Wright, who tried to go to third on a grounder to
Wessinger at short. Wessinger's eyes lit up like he was looking at a
winning lottery ticket as he fired to third baseman Sean O'Hare. Wright
tried to put on the brakes and retreat but he was tagged out as he
attempted to shift into reverse.
ECU coach Billy Godwin saw
the situation as a snapshot of the Pirates' struggles on a breezy day.
"Not pointing fingers at
anyone but that's just an example of trying to do too much," said the
ECU skipper. "He's a way better player than that."
Godwin said the Pirates
address that base-running situation on a regular basis.
"Unfortunately, that kind
of summed up," he said. "I feel like guys are trying to create things
that aren't there. We've got to slow the game down a little bit and
focus on the game. The game speeds up on you and you do things that are
uncharacteristic. I think that's where some of our guys are right now."
Godwin was accompanied by
Bryan Bass (two hits, one RBI), Chase McDonald (two hits) and Corey
Thompson (two hits, two RBIs) at the postgame news conference. [Select
press conference audio replay in a new window...]
The Pirates voiced their
determination going forward in the double-elimination regional. ECU
(35-23-1) plays Cornell (31-16-1) in an elimination game at 1 p.m.
Godwin planned to start
senior left-hander Kevin Brandt (7-6, 1.85 earned run average) this
"He's probably the top
leader on our team," Thompson said of Brandt. "He always goes out there
and pounds the strike zone. He's a competitor. He's going to go out
there and give it 110 percent every time."
Bass said Brandt and the
Pirates have been in this situation before. Brandt started a game at
Virginia last year when
ECU beat the Red Storm, 6-4, in
a rematch to reach the regional final.
"It's an elimination
game," Bass said. "We all know that. (Brandt) is going to know that
also. ... He's going to go out there and give it all he's got. ... I
have all the confidence in the world in him."