Cliff Godwin and the East Carolina baseball program are all set to unofficially kick off the baseball season this Saturday night with the annual Pirate Baseball Banquet.
It will be my honor and privilege to once again emcee the festivities.
The dinner will be held at the new Main Campus Student Center, the sparkling 222,000-square-foot facility that opened last month. The 14,000-square-foot ballroom will open its doors and welcome over 600 fans for a night of Pirate baseball.
McCall’s Bar-B-Que and Seafood will cater the buffet-style dinner.
The Pirate players will scatter around the room and visit with fans during the dinner. The event begins with an autograph session from 5 p.m.-6 p.m.
All of the proceeds from the event go right back to Pirate baseball.
“We’re really fortunate to have all of the support that we get,” said fifth-year ECU coach Cliff Godwin. “I look forward to this night every year. It’s really big for our program.”
Former Pirates Chris Holba (2016-18) and Eddie Loesner (1994-95) will serve as keynote speakers.
Holba was the Pirate ace a year ago, compiling a 9-1 record.
Loesner was an assistant coach at ECU during Godwin’s playing days. He is currently the head coach at Farmville Central.
Holba posted his sterling record last season in 15 outings while sporting a 2.99 ERA. He capped off his junior campaign earning third-team All-America honors from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and was a unanimous American Athletic Conference First-Team selection.
Holba combined on a pair of shutouts (North Carolina and Saint Joseph’s), sported a .900 winning percentage and tallied eight quality starts to lead the Pirates.
“I’ll be nervous,” said Holba when I asked him about speaking at this year’s banquet. “It’s probably as nervous as I ever get.”
Besides coaching Godwin at ECU, Loesner has coached at Pitt Community College and in the Cape Cod League. He has also served as the high school baseball coach at Kinston and Nash Central before taking the job with the Jaguars.
Without giving anything away, Pirate fans will be most pleased with a couple of announcements set for Saturday night.
“We’ve got a great evening planned,” said Pete Buscaino, Director of Baseball Operations with ECU. “This will be our biggest crowd by far, as we are expecting over 600 for the banquet.”
Both Holba and Loesner will speak. Current players that are set to take to the stage to speak include Turner Brown, Bryant Packard and Jake Agnos.
“Mustache March” also returns. This year the Pirates will be joined by both Memphis and Michigan in raising funds and awareness for ALS.
“Coach Bakich called the other day to confirm,” said Godwin. “And we’re certainly glad to have them.”
Wolverines coach Erik Bakich is a former Pirate who also played with Coach Godwin at East Carolina in 1999 and 2000.
The Pirate Baseball Banquet is always a first class event and I hope you have your tickets ready to go.
We’ll see you Saturday and we’ll talk Pirate baseball.