Exceptional Community Baseball League Day with East Carolina is always one of the best days of the season.
This year it was made even better as it was preceded by Sunday’s 6-5 walk-off win for ECU, which puts the Pirates squarely in the conversation of a host’s roll in the upcoming NCAA baseball regionals.
The Pirates trailed Cincinnati 5-0 as late as the 6th inning in the rubber match of their weekend series. It was 5-1 in the 8th when the Pirates plated a pair on a 2-run single by Andrew Henrickson.
East Carolina batted in the bottom of the 9th down by two runs. Turner Brown, who has really come on at the plate of late, hit a solo home run to bring the deficit down to a single run.
Bryant Packard did just what Bryant Packard does. His base hit to right field put the tying run on and the Pirates were on the comeback trail.
Bryson Worrell, hitting for the injured Dwanya Williams-Sutton, and Spencer Brickhouse both walked to load the bases with no outs.
Connor Litton then took an 0-2 pitch the other way for a 2-run single to win the game and the series for ECU.
“I’m just happy for our seniors,” said ECU coach Cliff Godwin after the win. “We were without one of our weekend starters and (Jake) Agnos was on fumes, but gave it everything he had. Davis (Kirkpatrick) and Ryan (Ross) both said they had one inning in them and if it wasn’t Senior Day, they probably wouldn’t have pitched.
“It was just a heck of a performance by a lot of guys. Andrew Henrickson played unbelievable in the outfield and had a big two-RBI knock in the eighth inning. There were a lot of times where this team could have packed it in like when Packard lined out into a double play in the seventh, but we just kept fighting — that’s what makes this one special.”
This one was made even more special by the second set of games in the doubleheader.
It was the annual Pirate exhibition with the Exceptional Community Baseball League. The youth teams came out and played in the first game and really enjoyed hitting on the big stage and ‘hanging’ out with the Pirate players.
The senior youth and adults came out for the second half of the afternoon and also had a great time with the Pirates.
“We circle the date on our calendars when we start the year,” said ECU shortstop Turner Brown. “We always look forward to putting a smile on these guys’ faces.”
There were smiles all around for the rest of the afternoon.
To put it in perspective, these Pirate players had to be at the ballpark early Sunday morning. The rubber match with Cincinnati started at 1 p.m. The thrilling victory was complete shortly after 4 p.m. After a short break, the ECU ball club was back at it with the ECBL players for the better part of two hours.
It was two hours of absolute baseball joy for the ECBL players. Each one got to hear their name called on the sound system at Clark-LeClair Stadium. Each player got to bat and run the bases, just like the Pirates had done earlier in the day.
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“Our guys really enjoy the day,” said Godwin. “It’s always one of the best days of the year for the Pirates.”
“I was glad we got the win today,” said Bryant Packard, who ran his consecutive game hitting streak to 28 straight with a lead-off hit on Sunday. “It’s always a great day, but it really feels good after a big win.”
As a step-parent of a special needs child, I see the daily struggle that many have on a day to day basis. To be honest, ours is not nearly as challenging as many others have it. Still, I know that each and every one of the parents and players appreciated the day with the ECU baseball team.
It was a day to remember for sure.