What’s at stake and the teams involved could make for a memorable weekend at Clark-LeCalir Stadium as East Carolina hosts an NCAA baseball tournament regional.
The Pirates are the No. 10 seed nationally and the top seed in the Greenville regional. N.C. State is the No. 2 seed in the regional and will open play against third-seeded Campbell today at noon.
ECU plays fourth-seeded Quinnipiac this evening at 6 p.m. The format is double elimination.
Today’s losers meet at 11 a.m. Saturday in an elimination game. Friday’s winners tangle Saturday at 4 p.m.
If chalk holds, as the ESPNU crew said about a dozen times on the bracket announcement show Monday, the Wolfpack and Pirates will play at 4 p.m. Saturday. That first pitch time is assuming that thunderstorms, which held a convention in Greenville last year, don’t become a factor.
The Bobcats and Camels will be looking to sustain momentum from winning their conference tournaments while ECU and State must reverse trends that led to 1-2 showings in their respective league championships.
Campbell has split midweek games with the Pirates and Wolfpack this season.
State (42-17) will send sophomore right-hander Reid Johnston (6-1, 3.91 ERA) to the mound this afternoon. Campbell (35-19) will counter with senior righty Michael Horrell. (9-3, 2.73).
The Pack spent some time ranked No. 1 this season during a 27-2 start. Since then, their record is 15-15.
Campbell left fielder Matthew Barefoot is hitting .313 in the leadoff spot with a team-high 47 RBIs and is the No. 148 prospect in the upcoming MLB draft, according to one ranking. He’s one slot behind ECU’s Spencer Brickhouse at 147.
State shortstop Will Wilson is rated the No. 21 prospect. Outfielder Bryant Packard of the Pirates is listed at No. 106 and left-handed hurler Jake Agnos of ECU is rated No. 155.
How intent the ECU juniors are about prolonging their college careers could be a factor as Pirate Nation is hopeful of an extended postseason run.
ECU (43-15) has named normal Saturday starter Jake Kuchmaner (6-2, 2.83) to go tonight. against Quinnipiac (29-27).
If the regional comes down to the Pack and the Pirates, which team will be rocking the red? Will it be the one that spent some time ranked No. 1? Or will it be the team that was swept at home by Louisville after its sensational start?
And speaking of Louisville, fans will have more than casual interest in the regional the Cardinals are hosting. That’s who the winners in Greenville will see in a best-of-three Super Regional. Teams and their regional seeds in Louisville include Big Ten regular season champion Indiana (2), Illinois State (3) and Illinois-Chicago (4).
The typical ECU-State matchups are about bragging rights. Potential games this weekend would mean more. For the Pirates, it would be about taking a step toward fulfilling a dream.
This is ECU’s 30th time in the NCAA Tournament and in case you haven’t heard, that’s the most entries for a program that hasn’t been to the College World Series.