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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, May 15, 2012

By Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey

Pirates searching for clutch hits


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Brian BaileyReplay Monday night's BRIAN BAILEY SHOW. East Carolina head baseball coach BILLY GODWIN was Brian's guest. Eastern North Carolina's longest running sports radio call-in show airs each Monday night at 7 p.m. on Pirate Radio 1250 and 930.
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By Brian Bailey
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East Carolina baseball coach Billy Godwin knew playing at Southern Miss is always a difficult assignment. Still, it was an assignment he and his team looked forward to.

But three games resulted in three tough losses and the Pirates limped home with a very bad taste in their mouths.

“I don’t think it’s frustration,” said Godwin. “I think now it’s determination. We have to be determined to finish strong and play well the rest of the way.”

The underlying theme this season is that the Pirates can hit, but they just haven’t been able to get the key hit. At Southern Miss, the Pirates hit well below their average and still had a chance to win all three games.

The series with the Golden Eagles was very even on the stat line. Still, Southern Miss made the plays it had to in order to win.

In Friday’s game, East Carolina lefty Kevin Brandt had seen the script before. Brandt was brilliant, giving up just three hits, allowing one unearned run. He struck out six and walked one in his 12th quality start of the season.

Brandt retired 18 of the first 19 batters he faced through six innings. He faced just 28 hitters on the night, which was four over the minimum.

Still, the Pirates couldn’t get that one clutch hit and lost the game 1-0.

Brandt has three complete games this season, and all three have come in losing efforts.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that either,” said Godwin when asked about Brandt’s three complete game losses. “He has really pitched well this season.”

Saturday’s game was suspended because of rain with the game tied at two. East Carolina scored in the seventh when the game resumed to go up by a run. The Pirates couldn’t hold the lead and lost the game 5-3.

That set up the finale, which was on a time limit because of the Conference USA travel rules. That rule never came into effect, even though the game went 12 innings.

Again, East Carolina had several chances to take the lead and most likely win the game. But once more the clutch hits just didn’t’ come and the Pirates lost 5-4 in 12 innings.

Southern Miss centerfielder Dillon Day had himself one in the series finale.

Day’s walk-off RBI single in the 12th won the game for the Golden Eagles. He also made two great throws to gun down Pirate runners. In the 8th inning, Day threw out Corey Thompson who was trying to score on a Bryan Bass base hit. Then in the 11th inning, Tim Younger singled and Bass tried to score, only to be thrown out by Day on a close call at home play.

The bottom line is that the Golden Eagles made the plays they needed to in order to win the game.

The Pirates close out their home schedule tonight hosting High Point at Clark-LeClair Stadium. Brandt is expected to start on three day’s rest tonight.

East Carolina heads to Richmond for a Friday game with VMI and a Saturday matchup with VCU to close out the regular season.

Then it’s on to Pearl, Mississippi, and the Conference USA Tournament.

Despite getting swept in Hattiesburg, the Pirates are still in a very good position to make the NCAA tournament field. Every win obviously solidifies that position even more, but with an RPI in the mid 20’s ECU will most likely be a number two seed, perhaps in Raleigh or Chapel Hill.

“Nobody is more disappointed in losing all three games to Southern Miss then me or the players,” said Godwin. “We have to be determined to play our best baseball each and every time out. We have to execute and it starts at the top with me. If we can win our last three then we’ll head to the tournament after winning eight of our last eleven.”

The regular season is in its final stages. Teams hope to be playing their best baseball in May.

Here’s hoping the Pirates get a clutch hit or two over the next couple of weeks to extend the baseball season.


E-mail Brian Bailey.

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05/15/2012 03:26 AM


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