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From the Anchor Desk
Monday, May 21, 2012

By Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey

Pirates get set to face elite field


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Audio recorded by Brian Bailey.

East Carolina baseball coach Billy Godwin previews the Conference USA Tournament:.


Pirates get set to face elite field
Audio: Billy Godwin Previews the Tournament
Conference USA Baseball Tournament Schedule
Gaffes sink ECU in regular season finale
Bass, Smithmyer deliver in Classic win
Casting a wary eye on 2012 opponents: Part IV
ECU sends off seniors with a bang
Pirates searching for clutch hits
USM puts double whammy on Pirates
Game knotted when rains come
Epic pitcher's duel goes to USM, 1-0
Casting a wary eye on 2012 opponents: Part III
Pirates in search of something truly special
Pirates reel in a big catch in Smith

By Brian Bailey
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The regular season is in the books. It wasn’t the season that Billy Godwin and his Pirates were hoping for, but it is still a very solid body of work that should put East Carolina in the NCAA tournament next week.

East Carolina enters play in the 2012 Conference USA tournament as the sixth seed. The Pirates will see Central Florida, UAB and Tulane in their half of the bracket. The tournament is set up with two pods, with the pod winners playing in a one-game championship game on Sunday that will be nationally televised on the CBS Sports Network.

The Pirates lost two out of three at UCF this season. East Carolina swept UAB at home, but lost two out of three to Tulane at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

“Whether you are two, three, six or seven you are still playing the same teams,” said ECU coach Billy Godwin. “We were half a game out of third and three games out of the loss column from winning the league. Every team in our bracket is a team that we have had some success against. We have an elite baseball league and we know the teams are good.”

Hard luck lefthander Kevin Brandt will get the start for East Carolina in the opener against the Green Wave on Wednesday night. Brandt’s record isn’t anywhere indicative of just how good he has been this season. He’s just 7-5, but he leads the team in innings pitched with 94 with an earned run average less than two.

“Every start is a big start,” said Brandt. “We go out and try to win every game, but now it’s crunch time. I just want to do everything that I can to let us go out there and win.”

Brandt has three complete games this season. Unfortunately, he was the losing pitcher in all three of those games.

Jharel Cotton has the best record on the staff. Cotton’s lone loss came in the regular season finale at Virginia Commonwealth when he lasted just two-thirds of an inning. He gave up six runs (one earned) on one hit with three walks. He also hit two batters.

Cotton was being held out with back spasms near the end of the regular season and Godwin says he thought his pitcher was healthy enough to go against VCU.

“I’m not concerned,” said Godwin. “I would be concerned if there were four or five of those starts. He said he was healthy and he looked healthy to me. He just had a bad outing. Usually when great competitors have bad outings they bounce back strong and I’m hoping Jharel can do that.”

Jay Cannon is expected to be back and ready to go for the tournament. The Pirates' offense has struggled so much this year and they need their fifth place hitter to come in and give the offense a boost.

Godwin says his club has yet to put all three phases of the game together. He knows time is running out.

“I still believe that this team has yet to put its best baseball together,” said Godwin. “We have good hitters. Our pitchers have been solid. If we could just go in there and refocus our energy and intensity on one pitch at a time and one play at a time, I think we can do well.”

This senior class, led by catcher Zach Wright and third baseman Corey Thompson, has one last shot at a Conference USA tournament title. East Carolina has only one C-USA tournament title in its history. That title came in 2002 in Kinston, when the Pirate players celebrated the championship by dumping Gatorade on Coach Keith LeClair’s van in right field.

This senior class would like nothing more than to find success in Pearl, Mississippi, this week.

“We just have to throw strikes and make the routine plays,” said Thompson. “We have to keep hitting the baseball and hope that some of those balls find holes. We are just worrying about one game at a time. It’s going to be a struggle because all of these teams in this conference are good. I think we will play well.”

First up is Tulane. The Pirates have Thursday off and then close out with UCF and UAB. Click here to view the pods and the complete tournament schedule

The postseason is on for Pirate baseball. — BB

2012 Conference USA Baseball Tournament

Pod 1 (Seeds 1, 4 5, and 8)

1. Rice vs. Southern Miss, Memphis and Houston
4. Southern Miss vs. Rice, Memphis and Houston
5. Memphis vs. Rice, Southern Miss and Houston
8. Houston vs. Rice, Southern Miss and Memphis

Pod 2 (Seeds 2, 3 6, and 7)

2. UCF vs. Tulane, East Carolina and UAB
3. Tulane vs. UCF, East Carolina and UAB
6. East Carolina vs. UCF, Tulane and UAB
7. UAB vs. UCF, Tulane and East Carolina

Day-by-Day Schedule of Games

Wednesday, May 23

Game 1 - (5) Memphis vs. (4) Southern Miss at 12 noon
Game 2 - (8) Houston vs. (1) Rice at 4 p.m.
Game 3 - (6) East Carolina vs. (3) Tulane at 8 p.m.

Thursday, May 24

Game 4 - (7) UAB vs. (2) UCF at 12 noon
Game 5 - (8) Houston vs. (4) Southern Miss at 4 p.m.
Game 6 - (5) Memphis vs. (1) Rice at 8 p.m.

Friday, May 25

Game 7 - (7) UAB vs. (3) Tulane at 12 noon
Game 8 - (6) East Carolina vs. (2) UCF at 4 p.m.
Game 9 - (8) Houston vs. (5) Memphis at 8 p.m.

Saturday, May 26

Game 10 - (3) Tulane vs. (2) UCF at 12 noon
Game 11 - (7) UAB vs. (6) East Carolina at 4 p.m.
Game 12 - (4) Southern Miss vs. (1) Rice at 8 p.m.

Sunday, May 27

Championship Game at 2 p.m. (televised by CBS Sports Network)

E-mail Brian Bailey.

Brian Bailey Archives

05/23/2012 02:59 AM


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