The big knock. The clutch shot. The one key hit that would have made the difference in all three games eluded the Pirates all weekend long.
Houston came to town to battle for first place in the American and took all three games in the series. In all three games East Carolina certainly had its chances.
The weekend got off to a bad start on Friday, when ECU ace Chris Holba was a late scratch because of the flu. Holba was 9-0 on the season. He was the latest victim in a string of illnesses this team has been battling all month long.
“We haven’t made excuses all year,” ECU coach Cliff Godwin told the media after Sunday’s loss. “But to say that we are the same team without Chris Holba isn’t true at all.”
Still, the Pirates played well in that first game. Jake Agnos certainly did his part as the starting pitcher. His performance, coupled with Trey Benton’s work in the later innings in that first game were a real positive moving forward.
Former D.H. Conley star Bryant Packard continued his great play. He ran his hitting streak to 20 games this weekend with another stellar performance.
Packard was involved in the weekend’s most controversial play. That play came on Saturday, in the bottom of the eighth inning, when Packard tried to score on a potential sacrifice fly.
It was a bang, bang play for sure. I didn’t have a great angle, but I talked to several fans and media members that did. Half said he was out, and the other half said he was safe. Truly, the call could have gone either way. The weekend’s theme continued when the call didn’t go ECU’s way.
The Pirates played well on Friday night. That couldn’t be said for the rest of the weekend.
As bad as it was, ECU had a chance to win all three games late. One big hit would have changed the story.
Sunday was especially frustrating.
“The game today really wasn’t close at all,” Godwin said after the 6-5 game three loss. “I’m embarrassed the way we played today. I’m the head coach and it’s my fault because they weren’t ready to play. It was as uninspired of a baseball game as I have been associated with here at East Carolina. But one thing I can promise is that we will play inspired baseball in New Orleans next Friday night. We didn’t play bad Friday night, we just didn’t win. Yesterday and today, I was embarrassed with the intent and energy that we came out with and again, that’s my fault since I’m the head coach.”
So many times in sports coaches don’t take ownership when things go south. You have to hand it to Godwin, as he stood up and promised to right the wrongs before next weekend’s series at Tulane.
The American has only had four sweeps all year long in league play. Houston now has three of those, with the Pirates’ sweep of Memphis the other one.
The most disappointing part of the weekend was the lack of energy, especially for a series with first place on the line.
The Pirates were right in the middle of exams, but all the teams in the American have to deal with that.
Godwin looks forward to this week, when all his players will have to work on is baseball.
This team will be better moving forward. The season is a marathon, and not a sprint. Perhaps this lost weekend will pay dividends down the road. There’s still plenty of baseball to be played.
One thing is for sure. There will be an angry group of Pirates in New Orleans next weekend.