East Carolina baseball coach Cliff Godwin knew Joe Dooley during his first term as basketball coach with the Pirates.
“I had tried to walk on the basketball team,” Godwin said. “I actually went to a few workouts with the basketball guys.
“Thank God, he didn’t think I was a good enough basketball player because I definitely wasn’t a good enough baseball player to do both.
“I’m glad that he didn’t think I was good enough. I did know him. One of my roommates in college, Garrett Blackwelder, played for him.”
At Greene Central High School, Godwin had played football (quarterback), basketball (his dad, Lewis, was coach) and baseball.
Dooley had a recollection of the circumstances at a news conference to announce his return to ECU as basketball coach.
“He and Garrett were great friends,” Dooley said Thursday. “I told him, ‘Stick to baseball.'”
That advice has worked well for the Pirates, who are ranked as high as No. 11 this week gong into the start of a three-game series at Washington tonight.
Godwin was an academic All-American and helped ECU to a Super Regional in 2001.
Starting with a 6-4 home win over UNC-Wilmington on Tuesday and finishing with a doubleheader at Washington on Saturday, the Pirates will play five games in five nights.
That will test pitching depth.
“Anytime you play five games in a week, that’s the thing that you worry about,” Godwin said. “We’re deeper than we’ve ever been before so we’ve just got to go out there and execute pitches like we have been.”
Godwin limited sophomore left-hander Jake Agnos, who started against UNCW.
“Jake could have definitely went out there for the fifth but I wanted him to be available for this weekend,” Godwin said. “I didn’t want to extend him too much.”
Circumstances with Washington
The Huskies came onto the schedule because of a mix-up.
“We had a team scheduled for that weekend,” Godwin said. “They backed out on us late because they hadn’t signed the contracts yet. They got the dates mixed up of when we were supposed to play. In baseball scheduling, it’s not quite as out in front as football but it’s pretty close as far as you’re doing it years in advance.
“When they backed out on us this summer, we were scrambling to try to find a weekend series. Washington reached out to us and gave us a good guarantee to come out there. We didn’t really have a choice. We had to find three games and we’re heading to Seattle to play Washington.”
The Pirates left Greenville early Thursday.
Wichita State entering the American Athletic Conference this year created a bye weekend in league play.
“Because there’s an odd number of teams,” Godwin said. “There are nine teams in the American in baseball. … This is a one-time deal. There is nothing scheduled for them to come back.”
After a couple of tough outings, Godwin said Wednesday he wasn’t sure if Trey Benton would start on Friday night.
“I want the media to understand the guy has pitched really good for us,” Godwin said. “Yes, he has not had his best outings the past two weekends but the guy has won some big games for us this year.
“What we’ve tried to instill in our entire pitching staff, we want three Friday night guys to pitch on the weekend and I think they’ve all done a good job of that.”
Wichita State series
ECU dropped the opening game of the home series with Wichita State, 14-3, as the Shockers pounded out 20 hits on March 29. The Pirates regrouped to take the series with a 5-0 win in the deciding game.
“Baseball is a game of momentum, like most sports are,” Godwin said. “They really got rolling. It’s an offensive night. The wind was blowing out. They swung the bats great on Thursday. The thing that’s different in baseball than maybe football is you get to play a team three times. It isn’t just one game and you don’t get to take runs over from Thursday night to Friday night.
“I thought Chris Holba, his maturity and his experience on Friday, to go out there and only give up one run in six innings was huge. Then it tells all the other pitchers on our staff if you execute pitches, then they are human. I thought Chris was the key to the weekend just because he was the guy who had to go out there and really knock the confidence down of the Wichita State hitters. I thought once he did that, the rest of the pitching staff just followed suit.”
ECU won the second game with the Shockers, 7-3.
“Tyler Smith (third game starter) and Chris talked a lot about how to pitch certain guys,” Godwin said. “Tyler’s performance on Saturday was awesome.”
ECU has put together a 22-6 record, playing most of the way without junior Dwanya Williams-Sutton, who led the AAC in hitting as a freshman.
“Dwanya has a severe case of tendinitis in his wrist,” Godwin said. “He is taking time off. He will start swinging again (Wednesday, April 4). We’ll see how it goes.
“I think he’s going to have to play though some pain at some point in time this year. I don’t know if it will feel 100 percent this year. Tendinitis is tough. I’ve had it in my shoulder when I played here. It’s just a tough deal. You need rest. Unfortunately, when you’re in the season, it’s tough to get a lot of rest because you’re playing almost every day.”