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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
By Brian Bailey

Big stakes ride on Pirates' pitching


The preliminaries are over for the East Carolina baseball team.

It’s the postseason, and the Pirates probably need at least a win or two this week to pick up that much coveted at-large berth in the NCAA baseball tournament.

ECU opens the Conference USA Tournament in Hattiesburg bright and early this morning against Houston (10 a.m.), a team that East Carolina didn’t see this season.

Like the College World Series, the conference tournament is actually a pair of double elimination events going on at the same time. The two survivors then play one game for the tournament championship.

East Carolina would dearly love to make it to the weekend. The problem is that top-ranked Tulane hails in the same part of the bracket with East Carolina.

On the positive side, any game with the number-one team in the nation (Collegiate Baseball News poll) gives a team a chance to help its cause with the NCAA’s by making a good showing. A win, of course, would help even more.

First things first, though. East Carolina needs to start off by beating Houston.

“We need our starters to go out there and pitch well and give us some innings,” said Randy Mazey before his team left for Hattiesburg. “With our pitching depth we need to win and stay out of the loser’s bracket.”

Mazey pled his case on the NCAA’s this past weekend. The Pirate coach hopes his team has already done enough to make the tournament.

“I hope they (the selection committee) look at our injuries, the way we battled back," he said. "We’ve won seven conference series. To do that with all of the adversity and all of the injuries we’ve faced this year, you really have to feel good about what we’ve done this year.”

East Carolina plays in the 7 p.m. game on Thursday if the Pirates beat Houston. If ECU drops the opener, then the Pirates play another early morning game in the loser’s bracket.

Expect the Pirates to go all out in the opener. Every win moves this team closer to the NCAA tournament.

Two straight losses could end the Pirate season. This team, however, deserves a shot at the postseason.

Herrion’s opportunity

Former ECU basketball coach Bill Herrion may be a head coach again very soon.

The University of New Hampshire has offered Herrion its head coaching vacancy.

Herrion, who is in Greenville this week for the graduation of his daughter from J.H. Rose High School, told me last night that he is certainly considering the offer.

Herrion recently accepted an assistant coaching position at the University of Arkansas. Razorback officials have offered Herrion a substantial raise if he stays at Arkansas, while New Hampshire has put together a nice financial package as well.

Herrion looked refreshed and ready for whatever challenge he decides to take on. He is a native of Worcester, MA, and the New Hampshire job would return him to his home area of New England.

Before he came to East Carolina in 1999, Herrion coached Drexel to a 167-71 record in eight seasons, including three NCAA Tournament appearances.

The New Hampshire coaching position became vacant when Phil Rowe resigned in May after six seasons and a 45-125 record. He was 9-19 last season.

The Wildcats have finished with a winning record just eight times since the 1951-52 season.

I’m betting that Herrion returns up north, closer to his coaching roots. Head coaching jobs are hard to come by and this would be a great opportunity.

It almost parallels Ricky Stokes' hiring at East Carolina. There is no question that Stokes, like Herrion, is a great guy who was in an extremely tough situation in his previous head coaching stint at Virginia Tech.

Now both have a second chance, Stokes with the Pirates and Herrion with the Wildcats of New Hampshire.

That official announcement on Herrion should come shortly.

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02/23/2007 01:31:51 AM

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