It may have been Sunday night and it may have been close to 11 p.m., but it didn’t matter.
East Carolina baseball fans were out late to welcome their Pirates home. ECU took two out of three from Wichita State over the weekend. The 6-1 win on Friday clinched the Pirate’s first ever American Athletic Conference regular season title in any sport.
First-year ECU Director of Athletics Jon Gilbert gave each member of the baseball traveling party a nice 2019 American Baseball Championship tee shirt. It was a class gesture for the new AD’s best program at this time.
ECU coach Cliff Godwin and his team were pleasantly surprised with the welcome and the gifts.
“They are just super excited to be a part of this championship,” said Godwin about the welcome. “I’m happy for our players and our support staff. A lot of people have worked very hard for the five years that I’ve been here to get this.”
I sent Cliff a text on Friday night to congratulate him on the accomplishment. He texted back that it really hadn’t sunk in yet. I think it started to sink in on the flight back from Kansas.
“I’m really proud of our guys because this is a body of work,” Godwin said. “This isn’t winning four or five games in a week. This is our body of work.”
Perhaps this championship means more because of that body of work, but the team has designs on other objectives, too.
“This is just one of our goals,” explained Godwin. “This certainly isn’t our end goal. If we want to reach all of our goals we’ll have to play much better than we did these past few days. It’s good to get back home. I know the guys are little fatigued. I thought we played tired Saturday and Sunday.
“We need to get off our feet a little bit and get rejuvenated when Campbell comes to town Tuesday night.”
That’s two tournament titles and a regular season championship for head coach Cliff Godwin in just five years. The Pirates are 18-3 in the AAC after an 8-5 start to the regular season in non-conference play.
“We knew we had the talent,” said Godwin last week. “We had some injuries early on and we’re still learning how to be a team. We had to get closer as a group and I think we did just that.”
Louisville has the all-time mark in the American for regular season wins with 19. Another series win this week would give this ECU team at least 20 conference wins, and a sweep would make it 21.
First, though, the Pirates look to avenge a loss to Campbell. Pirate freshman Evan Odum will make his first collegiate start.
This time last year Odum was leading Florence Darlington Tech to a 43-13 record and a Region X regular season title. He was 5-1 with a 2.41 in 12 appearances (10 starts) for the Stingers.
This year Odum has appeared in seven games for the Pirates with a 3.12 earned run average.
Memphis then comes to town starting Thursday. Friday is Senior Night for the Pirates and the regular season finale is on Saturday.
Then it’s down to Clearwater, Florida, for the American Baseball Championship. ECU will be the top seed and will open play on Tuesday, May 21st in the second game of the day. That game should start around noon.
These Pirates have already accomplished so much. But there is so much out there for this team.
I think we’re all looking forward to the next several weeks for Pirate baseball.