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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, April 22, 2008

By Brian Bailey

Tough treading

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.


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Talk about a Texas Two-step. Make that a three-step, as 7th-ranked Rice swept East Carolina in that key Conference USA series in Houston this past weekend.

The Pirates were thoroughly outplayed on Friday night, but had a real chance to take game two of the series on Saturday night.

One play certainly doesnít make a game, or a series for that matter. But when Harrison Eldridgeís catch in the bottom of the tenth of game two was ruled a trap it certainly took the wind out of the teamís sails.

A runner at second base with no outs is light years different then having a runner at second base with no outs in an inning.

Diego Seastrunk hit what looked to be a gapper to open the bottom of the tenth. Eldridge made like a magician to steal away the extra base hit. Or so we all thought.

Umpire John Ausmus ruled the play a trap.

Billy Godwinís first question was to find out if it was in fact Ausmusí call. You could read Godwinís lips on the television broadcast.

To the umpireís credit, he did have a meeting with the other umpires to see if anyone saw anything different. Iím sorry, but with legendary Rice coach Wayne Grahamís shadow hovering over the trio, that call had no chance of getting reversed.

Iím not saying that East Carolina would have won that second game of the series. Iím also not saying that game three would have been different.

I am saying that Iíve seen that play a hundred times from the television angles, and it was a great play by Eldridge. I wonder how game two would have gone, and game three for that matter, if the umpires had gotten the call right.

One of those umpires had to see that it was a catch. One of those guys in blue should have showed a little more hustle, gotten into better position, and then they would have gotten the call right.

Godwin showed great restraint in his discussion with the umpires about the play. So to did Eldridge. It would have been very easy for Godwin and the Pirates to vent their frustrations on the men in blue.

Rice is red hot, and they certainly cooled off East Carolina in that three-game set. Itís now the Pirates' challenge to dust themselves off, and win a bunch of games to close the season.

East Carolina still has a chance to host an NCAA regional, which has been the goal all season long. It is now an uphill climb, but I believe it is an achievable goal for sure.

Tonightís game with UNC-Wilmington is big. The Seahawks are now ranked 30th in the Collegiate Baseball poll. UNCW is 29-8-1 and hoping to make its own case to host in the NCAA tournament.

Itís a key week for ECU, even though the weekend features a non-conference series with Presbyterian. The Pirates really need a 5-0 week to try and get back into the national rankings.

With all of this said, the Pirates' most important assignment is on Sunday. Thatís when the Pirates will host the Greenville Challenger League for a game. The Pirate players will serve as buddies for the players, who all have special needs. Last yearís event was a great success, and I know Coach Godwin and his Pirates look forward to Sunday.

Everyone is a winner on Sunday. The game starts at 2:30 and admission is free. Tickets donít cost anything, and what youíll take away from the game might just last you a lifetime!


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04/22/2008 01:09:24 AM


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