East Carolina had hoped to be named as a top eight national seed for the 2019 NCAA baseball tournament.
The Pirates ended the season with an RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) of 5. That was better than national seeds (5) Arkansas with a 6 RPI, (3) Georgia Tech with an 8 RPI, (7) Louisville with a 9 RPI, and (8) Texas Tech with an 11 RPI.
Add in the Pirates strength of schedule, and there is no doubt that the Pirates should have been a top eight seed.
The NCAA selection committee saw otherwise, and so (10) ECU gets set to host the likes of North Carolina State, Campbell and Quinnipiac this weekend for the Greenville Regional.
The Greenville Regional is linked up with the Louisville Regional. Seventh seed Louisville hosts Indiana, Illinois State and UIC (University of Illinois-Chicago).
Pirate fans have to hope that ECU takes care of business in its regional, and that the Hoosiers, Redbirds or Flames pull off the upset for ECU to host a Super Regional.
First things first, and that’s taking care of business in Greenville.
The Pirates’ week started with a great gathering for the team at Sup Dogs in Greenville. If the name sounds familiar, it should. Sup Dogs was recently voted the best college bar in America in a contest sponsored by Barstool Sports.
The team got a nice ovation as the staff and players arrived to eat lunch and watch the NCAA pairings show.
Obviously there was a little disappointment with the national seed not being in the top eight.
There was a big roar when the Greenville Regional popped up on the screen. There was an even louder response when N.C. State showed up as the number two seed in Greenville.
“It’s a good bracket. Like I told the team there are no hard regional and there are no easy regionals,” said ECU coach Cliff Godwin. “This is just different. Every pitch matters. If we played like we played last week then it won’t matter. I think you’ll see a different Pirate team this weekend. Taking the field for a regional at Clark-LeClair, it gives me chills just thinking about it.”
Quinnipiac is up first on Friday night at 6 p.m. The Bobcats come in with an RPI of 177. The MAAC tournament champs were 29-27 on the season and 14-19 on the road. I would venture to say that these Bobcats didn’t play in front of crowd all year like they will see Friday night.
UNC-Wilmington was the 4 seed in Greenville last year and on paper were much better than these Bobcats.
I asked Coach Godwin if he would look at matchups or go with his set rotation for the weekend.
“We’ll look at matchups,” Godwin said. “You have to win that first game but you have to play the lineup that you feel gives you the best shot to win the regional.”
My gut feeling is that Godwin will hold Jake Agnos for game two.
“I’ve learned that I want the ball when Coach Godwin gives me the ball,” joked Agnos. “I’m sure they’ll look at it and decide what’s best. I’m ready to go whenever needed.”
ECU didn’t play the Wolfpack this year, but could see them twice this weekend. The Pirates split with Campbell for the season. Campbell walked off with a win in the cold and rain at home early in the year, and then ECU returned the favor with a walk-off suicide squeeze in the final week of the season.
“It’s nice to have two in-state teams coming to Greenville,” said Pirate star Bryant Packard. “I’m sure the fans will be pumped if we play N.C. State. We just have to worry about playing our brand of baseball though.”
Here is the schedule for the weekend:
2019 NCAA GREENVILLE REGIONAL SCHEDULE
Friday, May 31
Game 1: (3) Campbell vs. (2) NC State (12 p.m.)
Game 2: (4) Quinnipiac vs. (1) ECU (6 p.m.)
Saturday, June 1
Game 3: Loser G1 vs. Loser G2 (11 a.m.)
Game 4: Winner G1 vs. Winner G2 (4 p.m.)
Sunday, June 2
Game 5: Winner G3 vs. Loser G4 (12 p.m.)
Game 6: Winner G4 vs. Winner G5 (6 p.m.)
Monday, June 3
Game 7: Winner G6 vs. Loser G6 (1 p.m. – IF NECESSARY)
And for the second straight year there will be a “baseball celebration” to kick-off the Greenville Regional. “Batter Uptown” will be similar to the ‘Freeboot Fridays’ during football season.
National recording artist Chris Campbell will perform and it will be a great way to get the baseball party started this weekend.
We’ll see you at Clark-LeClair for the second straight year for the NCAA regionals.