BRIAN BAILEY'S TAKE ON PIRATE SPORTS

From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
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By Brian Bailey
WNCT-TV 9 Sports Director

Mission to Omaha on course

Next: Lubbock Super Regional

ECU vs. Texas Tech | Date/Time TBA

View ECU's full schedule on ECUPirates.com

 

BASEBALL

Pirates welcomed home as champs

GREENVILLE ó 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...

 
 

BASEBALL

Pirates power up, go Super

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA ó 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...

BASEBALL

Walkoff wallop whips Wahoos

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA ó 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...

BASEBALL

Pirates pull away in eighth

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA ó 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...

 

BASEBALL

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...

 

FOOTBALL RECRUITING

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

 

BASEBALL

Road to Omaha starts in Virginia

East Carolina will head back to the scene of its first road series of the year for NCAA play, as the Pirates travel to Charlottesville for the NCAA regionals. ... More from Brian Bailey...

 

BASEBALL

Pirates return to Charlottesville

East Carolina received a bid to the NCAA Tournament on Monday and will be returning to Virginia's Davenport Field where the Pirates won two of three against the Cavaliers in a series Feb. 26-28. ... More...

 

FOOTBALL RECRUITING

Pirates stock up at quarterback

In the month since starting quarterback contender Kurt Benkert transferred out of the program, East Carolina coach Scottie Montgomery has busied himself replenishing ECU's reservoir of talent at the position. Highly-regarded prep signal callers Kingsley Ifedi (left) and Mic Roof (right) are the latest talents to make their pledges to the Purple and Gold. ... Class of 2017 thumbnails...

 
 
 
 

By Brian Bailey
©2016 Bonesville.net
All rights reserved.

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It was the 'shot heard 'round the Pirate Nation.'

More than that, it was a shot heard 'round the entire nation!

Travis Watkins hit a three-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth Saturday night, propelling East Carolina to a stunning 8-6 win over home-standing Virginia, the defending National Champion and the top seed in the Charlottesville Regional.

Sure, the Pirates still had work to do. But that blast sent the champs reeling and moved ECU within one win of the NCAA Super Regionals.

While many of us were thinking and hoping for a sacrifice fly, Watkins was just trying to win the pitch.

ďOn the home run, I honestly wasnít going for the home run," Watkins explained. "He beat me in and thatís what we talk about in this program. Coach (Cliff) Godwin stresses it: ĎDonít get beat the same way twice.' So he beat me in and I was like ĎIím going to get to that fastball iní and he threw me a fastball in and I got the barrel to it."

It will go down as one of the most stunning wins in East Carolina baseball history.

I've really never seen or heard anything like it. Watkins got all of it. My mind quickly switched from tying the game, to walking-off with a victory.

The Cavalier faithful turned silent. It was over in an instant. The only sound came from the Pirate celebration, the first of two for the weekend.

The Pirates plated five in that 9th inning against Virginia. As in true team fashion, just about the entire lineup contributed in the inning.

Of course the job wasn't done. ECU still expected one or perhaps two battles with Virginia before the weekend would be complete.

The stunned Cavaliers never recovered from that 9th inning, essentially turning one loss into two. William & Mary beat Virginia early on Sunday, setting the stage for the Pirates to complete the regional win.

The Pirates did just that. Watkins, the Charlottesville Regional MVP, snapped a 4-4 tie with the Tribe in the 5th with a two-run round-tripper, and then Eric Tyler followed later in the inning with a two-run homer of his own for the winning 8-4 margin.

Sam Lanier was the star on the mound, as his stock continues to rise out of that Pirate bullpen.

Pirate Coach Cliff Godwin came close to going to Omaha as a player at ECU. Now his team is just two wins away in his second year as the team's skipper.

"There were so many great teams in this regional," said Godwin. "Any team, William & Mary, Bryant, UVa, any one of those teams could have won this regional. Our guys played their hearts out. Weíre lucky, but our guys earned it. Iím so happy for East Carolina University, all these players, all the former players and former coaches at East Carolina."

Next up is a super regional matchup with No. 5 national seed Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas.

Texas Tech lost one game in its regional but regrouped to beat Dallas Baptist 5-3 to advance.

The super regional schedule should come out Tuesday.

This past weekend was one I'll never forget. The Pirate players agreed and spoke in depth about the celebration after the regional clincher Sunday night.

"Dog piles are awesome," said Watkins. "Iím the catcher so Iím always on the bottom of it. It hurts in the moment, but man itís worth it. (I will) remember that for the rest of my life. It was awesome to celebrate that with my teammates.Ē

Eric Tyler agreed.

"Itís just been a blast this entire season," Tyler said. "Itís been up and down but thereís not a closer group of guys than this team. Itís just such an honor to go down in history for East Carolina baseball.Ē

Cliff Godwin is very much a part of that history. As a player he came close. As a coach he is close right now. Godwin says this team is beginning to comprehend the gravity of the mission.

"They understand this is bigger than themselves," Godwin said. "So many former players texted me yesterday that are so proud of our guys. Thatís what East Carolina baseball is all about... Itís a family. East Carolina deserves to go to Omaha. Will it be this year? I hope so, but weíre going to get there sometime.Ē

Sometime could be sooner rather than later.

BB

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