The setting: Late one night last week in the home of a sleepy diehard Pirate fan, dozing off in his recliner. Suddenly, a slick salesman seems to bound out of the TV, making wild promises in an indistinct space between dream sequence and infomercial.
“If you order now, you can have a perfect three inches of snow in Eastern North Carolina,” the pitchman booms. “But that’s not all! This snow will come and go, only slightly postponing Friday’s ECU sporting events. And when the roads are clear, you will have two days of athletic competition unlike anything the Pirate Nation has ever seen. Nine victories! A sweep and a tournament win! And best of all, a conference championship and a coach-of-the-year award!”
Drowsy and confused, the Pirate fan stumbles upstairs to bed, with visions of the improbable dancing in his head. And then Thursday evening arrives, and the big flakes start to fall.
Friday was a day for snowmen and rearranging sports schedules. Saturday morning fans plotted out their viewing strategies and athletes warmed up for the first of two days so packed with Pirate wins that, when it was all over, it was hard to even sort out the details of each triumph.
So now, a quick summary of what was surely the most successful abbreviated weekend in ECU sports history:
• Saturday at 1 p.m.: Lacrosse defeats Campbell 12-11, women’s basketball tops Temple 56-50
The lacrosse team put together a three-game winning streak (which grew to four after Wednesday’s victory over Longwood at home) Saturday on the road at Campbell, prevailing despite a 7-4 halftime score. Junior Megan Pallozzi, who was named the American Attack Player of the Week on Monday, scored four goals, including the tying and winning goals in the waning minutes for a photo finish.
At the same time their fellow Pirates were celebrating in Buies Creek, the women’s basketball team was writing its own dramatic tale, rebounding from an early 22-5 deficit to win its second come-from-behind game in four days. In dispatching the Owls, the Pirates relied on freshman Taniyah Thompson, the leading scorer with 23, and junior Lashonda Monk, who notched 17 points, eight assists and two steals.
• Saturday at 2:30 p.m.: Baseball beats Georgia Southern 3-0 in Game One
The highlights of this first segment of a perfect Pirate trifecta included pitcher Alec Burleson’s pitching eight scoreless innings and, just for good measure, driving in a run in the shutout. The Eagles only managed to get two runners on base, both on singles, and redshirt senior RHP Matt Bridges pitched in the ninth to earn his first save of the season.
• Saturday at 3:30 p.m.: Softball prevails 7-3 over Massachusetts
The softball team opened its chapter of the weekend in dominant fashion, outhitting the Minutewomen 11-1 in its first game of the Pirate Invitational. ECU was keyed by the bats of Rachel McCollum, who collected a run, two RBIs and a triple, and Tate McClellan and Bailey Ledvina, who had two hits apiece. Whitney Sanford and Kama Woodall combined forces on the mound, with Woodall earning the win with 3.2 perfect innings in relief.
• Saturday at 6 p.m. EST: Men’s swimming wins the American Athletic Conference championship
The men’s swimming team continued to build a reputation as a conference superpower, taking its fourth title in six years at the conference meet in Houston. Pirate swimmers earned three goal medals, from the 400 freestyle relay team of James Ward, Eric Hinderup, Gustavo Santos and Blaz Demsar, in the 200 backstroke by Marek Osina, and in the 200 fly by freshman Adam Mahler. The relay team and Mahler also both broke school records in their victories.
The ECU squad, which also claimed three silver medals and a bronze on Saturday evening, needed every one of those points to squeak past second-place finisher Cincinnati. The Pirates won the trophy by seven points, with 845 to Cincinnati’s 838. Also at the event, Pirate head coach Matthew Jabs was named American Men’s Swimming Coach-of-the-Year.
• Sunday at 10 a.m.: Softball dominates Pittsburgh 9-1
With both baseball and softball playing Sunday doubleheaders due to schedule alterations caused by the snow, the Pirates softball team got a busy day off to a bold-faced start in a victory that highlighted two-way freshman star Logyn Estes. She hit two home runs over the fence in the first three innings and collected a career-high six RBIs while also pitching a complete game to earn the win.
• Sunday at 11 a.m.: Baseball defeats Georgia Southern 3-2 in Game Two
This Diamond Bucs’ triumph featured season firsts for two players: Freshman C.J. Mayhue with his first career win after two scoreless relief innings, and Thomas Francisco with his first home run of 2020, which put the Pirates up 2-0 in the first. Ryder Giles had an RBI double in the second to hand ECU the winning run.
• Sunday at noon: Men’s basketball bests Temple 67-63
The baseball game was still going strong when the Pirates hit the hardwood and constructed a 10-point lead over the Owls. But despite that early surge, the game came down the wire, especially when a flagrant foul and double technicals against ECU players with 3:51 remaining gave Temple the chance for six free throws and the ball. Fortunately, the Owls only made three and forced a turnover, and then the Pirates went five-of-six from the line in the final minutes and Tremont Robinson-White sunk the winning basket.
• Sunday at 12:30 p.m.: Softball edges Towson 6-5 to win the Pirate Invitational
The Pirates took their first lead in the third on N.C. State transfer Chandley Garner’s two-run single, but the Tigers tied it up and forced an extra inning. Towson scored two in the top of the eighth, but McClellan and Garner both hit home runs in the bottom to score three more runs and give the home team its third victory of the weekend and its fourth consecutive win.
• Sunday at 2 p.m.: Baseball claims the sweep with a 10-2 shellacking of Georgia Southern
Determined to close out an extraordinary two days with a touch of the incredible, the Pirates scored four runs in the first inning behind Bryson Worrell’s three-run homer and then crossed the plate six times in the third. Jake Kuchmaner earned the win for three scoreless innings, and then the ECU coaching staff allowed six other Pirate hurlers to get some time on the mound.
And as the icing on the cake, several Pirate basketball players left Minges Coliseum after their victory and walked over to Clark-LeClair to take in some baseball. The Pirate faithful gave them a standing ovation, and the closest thing to a perfect ECU weekend was left in the books, about the time the last snowmen in Greenville were disappearing.
Dick Denton says
Thanks Bethany. That was well done.