coach Cliff Godwin and a number of
his players spoke with the press
after their final practice in
Greenville before heading to the
Lubbock Super Regional (recorded by
shortstop Turner Brown fields a
ground ball during ECU's final
practice in Greenville before
heading to Texas to face Texas Tech
in the Lubbock Super Regional.
(Photo by W.A. Myatt)
coach Cliff Godwin chats with Chris
Holba (11) and Evan Kruczynski
before hitting fungo to the infield
in the Pirates' final practice on
their home field before setting out
for the NCAA Lubbock, Texas, Super
Regional. (Photo by W.A. Myatt)
Mission to Omaha on course
was the 'shot heard 'round the Pirate Nation.' More than that, it was a
shot heard 'round the entire nation! Travis Watkins' three-run, walk-off
home run in the bottom of the ninth Saturday night set the stage for an
NCAA regional championship and a super regional berth.
Pirates welcomed home as champs
GREENVILLE — An enthusiastic
contingent of East Carolina fans
made the trek to Clark-LeClair
Stadium on Monday to extend
congratulations and a hearty welcome
to the Pirates upon their return to
Clark-LeClair Stadium after
capturing the NCAA regional title in
Charlottesville over the weekend.
Myatt captured a few pictures of the
occasion and recorded interviews
with ECU head coach Cliff Godwin and
Regional MVP Travis Watkins.
Play audio and view
Pirates power up, go Super
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA — Two-run homers
by Charlie Yorgen, Travis Watkins
and Eric Tyler keyed East Carolina's
8-4 win over William & Mary on
Sunday, clinching the NCAA regional
championship. The Tribe (31-31) had
edged 2015 College World Series
champion Virginia 5-4 in an
elimination game earlier in the day
Walkoff wallop whips Wahoos
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA — A three-run
homer by Travis Watkins capped a
five-run ninth inning for East
Carolina and provided an 8-6 walkoff
win over Virginia in the winners'
bracket matchup Saturday at
Pirates pull away in eighth
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA — East Carolina
broke open a pitching duel with
seven runs in the eighth inning to
defeat Bryant 9-1 in the Pirates'
NCAA Tournament opener on Friday.
Third-seeded ECU (35-21-1) advances
to play top-seeded Virginia (38-20)
at 6 p.m. today.
Regional represents redemption
Bryant Bulldogs have momentum
going into the Charlottesville
regional. East Carolina's first
round opponent at 4 p.m. today
has won 10 in a row. Momentum is
not a factor in the Pirates'
favor as ECU is coming off an
0-2 showing in defense of its
2015 championship in the
American Athletic Conference
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The East Carolina
baseball team's travel to Lubbock, TX, for the Super Regional was
expedited by the NCAA. The Pirates flew out of Greenville on
Wednesday morning and got a practice in Wednesday evening on site.
"It was great," said
second-year ECU coach Cliff Godwin. "We chartered from Greenville so
it was a direct flight, which is amazing. ... First time for our
guys doing that. It was cool. Security is not as intense or as
detailed but you have to go through it."
The Pirates would have
spent most of the day making the trip if they had traveled
"The NCAA is kind of
forced because of the timing of everything," Godwin said.
"Everything happened kind of last minute so there weren't enough
seats for us to get out here, commercially, so the NCAA gets a
charter for you.
"It would have been a
competitive disadvantage because it would have taken us all day to
get here. Talking about leaving from Raleigh, flying to Dallas or
Houston, and then connecting and going to Lubbock. You're probably
not going to be able to practice and it wears the guys out."
The Pirates are
scheduled for a weight lifting session this morning and will have a
short practice later.
The best of three series
with Texas Tech starts Friday at 8 p.m., Eastern time. The opener is
set to be televised on ESPNU.
"Friday we will get up,
have breakfast, not too early," Godwin said. "We normally take the
hitters over somewhere to hit. The pitchers kind of stretch. ...
We'll get ready to go at seven o'clock, Central time."
Godwin confident of
Getting to Omaha for the
College World Series has been a program goal for a long time. This
is ECU's 28th NCAA Tournament and it's yet to happen. The Pirates
were 0-2 in Super Regionals at Kinston against Tennessee in 2001,
0-2 at South Carolina in 2004 and 0-2 at North Carolina in 2009.
Godwin was a senior on
the 2001 team when the late Keith LeClair coached the Pirates to a
Obviously, ECU is two
wins away from reaching the promised land.
Being a regional champ
from a group that included the defending NCAA champions (Virginia)
and two conference champions (Bryant and William & Mary) is a
"One of the questions a
lot of people have asked is, 'Did you think it was going to happen
this quick?,' " Godwin said "I'd be a liar if I said I thought it
was going to happen this quick. I knew it was going to happen and
that's not to sound arrogant. I just knew with the coaching staff
that we have and the players we have within our program and the kids
that we're recruiting that when you do things the right way
consistently at some point in time you're going to get to the level
that you want to get to.
"Super proud for our
guys. Super proud for East Carolina University. Obviously proud for
everyone who played in the Coach (Keith) LeClair era because I know
Coach is smiling down on us. We're just pumped that we're playing in
a Super Regional."
Lanier builds on AAC
Sam Lanier pitched five scoreless innings to complete
an 8-4 win over the Tribe
for the regional title.
"I think the one thing
that helped Sam out was in that conference tournament — the Memphis
game — he came in and threw four-and two-thirds of shutout baseball
to give us a chance to win that game when we were down 5-2, I think,
at the time when he came in," Godwin said. "We extended it. He felt
confident. He felt good. It is different. As much as you want to say
it's the same, it was different for Jacob Wolfe. It was different
for Jimmy Boyd because they had never pitched in a regional setting
like that. It's different for all of them."
Godwin doesn't plan any
surprises in terms of his starting pitching.
"We're definitely going
with (Evan) Kruczynski and most likely Boyd (3 p.m. Eastern time,
Challenge at Texas
The Pirates are 15-9 on
the road this season. The Red Raiders are 23-8 at home.
"I think the biggest
challenge is they're a very good team," Godwin said. "They're
playing on their home turf. It's going to be a hostile environment.
We need to make sure we play our baseball regardless of what the
crowd's doing. To be able to weather the storm so to speak. When
they're making a run to be able to weather it and be able to get
runs back. That will probably be the biggest thing."
Avoiding bad weekend
won the AAC Tournament last year
went 0-2 in the Coral Gables regional.
This year, ECU
went 0-2 in the AAC Tournament
3-0 in the Charlottesville regional.
inconsistency is something the Pirates need to avoid.
"There's been a lot more
good than there has been bad in this program for two years," Godwin
said. " ... You have to look at the body of work and even this year,
it was a tough year for us but it prepared us for the moment in the
regional. We played a very tough schedule. ... Our nonconference
schedule was ranked in the Top 10 in the country. That's impressive.
Then our conference is tough. At the end of the day, I think we have
played well for two years. I'm proud of our guys, the energy and the
effort and the hard work they've put in."
Prep as coach
Godwin has a preparation
routine of his own in order to get the team ready.
"I watch a ton of video,
especially on the pitchers," Godwin said. "A little bit on the
opposing team's offense. I watch a lot of video. I get a scouting
report ready for the starting pitcher for our guys. Then kind of the
team message. It's more work than probably most people think. A lot
of head coaches, that's why they're not the hitting coach because it
adds stuff to your plate but for me that's my passion and I want to
make sure our hitters are the most prepared they can be. "
Last week, Godwin cited
the value of an inspirational video prior to the regional. The 2001
Super Regional at Grainger Stadium was featured in the presentation
on program tradition.
"We always show a
motivational video every Friday before our first game of a weekend
series," said the Pirates coach. "That was what we do every week.
They'll be one this Friday as well."
Keys for East
Godwin wants to see the
same team that made the trip to Virginia's Davenport Field last
"To play with the energy
and the emotion and the toughness that we did this past weekend," he
said in regard to keys this weekend. "If we play like that, win,
lose or draw, I'm going to be a happy head coach because they laid
it all on the field."
The Pirates (37-21-1)
won't be fixing anything that isn't broken.
"Why would you change
what you've been doing all year?" Godwin said. "That's when you get
yourself in trouble."
Red Raiders rally
Texas Tech (44-19) went
to a deciding game Monday with Dallas Baptist. ECU outfielder Parker
Lamm figured the Pirates were going to be playing in the Lone Star
"We're really excited to
head up to Texas," Lamm said. "I think either way we were going to
head there. ... We'll go up there (Wednesday) and get a good day of
practice in there. We're just ready to roll."
ECU has become a more
assured team in the last week.
"Clearwater (site of AAC
Tournament), it was rough," Lamm said. "I don't think we had the
confidence that we do now. Some of the players got together and we
all talked, just the team, without the coaches and I think that
helped us out a lot. Just to see where we are and let everybody know
that we are fine.
"It's a new season.
Everything's in the past. You've just got to go out and play your
best baseball at a certain time. We're doing that."
The Pirates scored eight
or more runs in all three regional games. ECU seemed to respond well
each time it was challenged in Charlottesville.
"That's been our goal,
ever since day one — ever since I got here last year," said Lamm, a
senior, who transferred from Pitt Community College. "That's always
been our goal, to get to a Super Regional and get to Omaha. It's
been a great ride my last year and I couldn't ask for anything else.
We just need to go play Pirate baseball and hopefully we can keep it
ECU's defense may not
have been as spectacular as the three-run homer by Travis Watkins in
the bottom of the ninth that provided
an 8-6 walk-off win over the Cavaliers
on Saturday but the arms and gloves were pretty special.
"You always hear defense
wins championships," Lamm said. "Our offense put up some runs this
past weekend. That kind of overshadowed the defense but I think
defensively we played very well. Probably the best weekend we've
played defense, honestly. That obviously did help us out a lot. Our
pitching was great, too."
Lamm credits Womack
Lamm's battle with
ailments has been going on for weeks.
"I am getting better, a
lot better honestly," Lamm said. "Zac Womack (trainer), he does what
he does. He keeps me on the field. Thank the Lord for him. Without
him I wouldn't be where we're at now. Everybody's nicked up. At this
point in time, nobody really cares. You're going out and you're
playing for a whole city right now. It's just a great time."
Don't look for Lamm to
show his appreciation for Pirate Nation on Twitter. Nonetheless, he
the welcome the team got
when the bus returned from the regional.
"I'm not a social media
guy," Lamm said. "I don't have none of that stuff so I don't keep up
with that but the welcome we got (Monday) was awesome. ... Just to
see the support that you have, come back from a long road trip. You
know they got your back so that's what we play for."
Flipping the switch
Being able to turn its
intensity on and off helped ECU deal with some rain delays last
"Being loose and keep
doing what we do," Kruczynski said of the team's personality. "Never
do we get too tight or too nervous. We just like to come out and
have a good time at practice ... have some fun. That's just our
"That's what Coach
Godwin instilled in us day one when he got here. ... We call it
flipping the switch. Like when you're in a rain delay, you have to
flip the switch off. ... You just have to relax a little bit. You
have to be able to flip it right back on. Once the tarp got pulled.
I think we were able to do that all weekend. I think that's why we
came out with the win."
The weather forecast for
Lubbock looks good for baseball.
ECU can turn the switch
on and play some of the most significant games in program history.
Kruczynski said. "You sit back and think we're only two wins from
Omaha. It gives me goose bumps to talk about it."