View from the East
Thursday, June 9, 2016

By Al Myatt

Al Myatt

Pirates take charter from Greenville

Next: Lubbock Super Regional

ECU vs. Texas Tech | Friday, 8 pm | ESPNU

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Audio: Godwin & players...

ECU 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 W.A. Myatt). ... Select clips...


Freshman 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)


ECU head 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

It 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. ... More from Brian Bailey...



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. Bonesville's W.A. 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 photos...

Audio: Godwin and Watkins...



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 ... More...


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 Davenport Field. ... More...


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. ... More...



Regional represents redemption

Al MyattThe 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 tournament ... More from Al Myatt...



Dual-threat QB plans to enroll early

One play was all it took for Kingsley Ifedi to start turning heads in his varsity debut as Vance High School's starting quarterback last August. Ifedi had served as the backup to senior Omar Baker, Jr., the year before as a sophomore after transferring to Vance from Phillip O'Berry Academy ... More from Sammy Batten...

ECU football recruiting thumbnails: Class of 2017


By Al Myatt
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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 commercially.

"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 reaching goals

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 47-15 record.

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 significant achievement.

"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 Tournament

Freshman right-hander 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, Saturday)."

Challenge at Texas Tech

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

The Pirates won the AAC Tournament last year and went 0-2 in the Coral Gables regional. This year, ECU went 0-2 in the AAC Tournament and 3-0 in the Charlottesville regional.

Late season 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 Carolina

Godwin wants to see the same team that made the trip to Virginia's Davenport Field last week.

"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 state.

"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."

Offense surges

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 rolling."

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 liked 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 weekend.

"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 team.

"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.

"It's unbelievable," Kruczynski said. "You sit back and think we're only two wins from Omaha. It gives me goose bumps to talk about it."

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06/09/2016 04:53 AM