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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, June 2, 2008

By Brian Bailey

LeClair's dream one step closer to reality

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

GREENVILLE — East Carolina’s hopes for Omaha and that first ever trip to the College World Series were down to the final three outs.

Devin Harris first kept those hopes alive with a game-tying three-run home run. Harris then moved those hopes into overdrive with an RBI single in the 10th to win the Greenville regional.

“I was just looking for a good pitch to hit,” said Harris after he was mobbed by his teammates. “I hit both times with runners in scoring position and I knew it would be key if I could get a hit and luckily I came up big.”

East Carolina had to rally from six runs down to beat South Carolina. Ryan Wood finally got the Pirates on the board with a two-run home run in the 5th.

The Pirates continued to peck away at the big lead and trailed 7-6 into the 8th.

That’s when South Carolina’s Jackie Bradley, Jr., hit a two-run home run that looked like it would send the Gamecocks to Chapel Hill next weekend.

Instead, Devin Harris started his 1-2 heroic punch with his three-run home run into the jungle in left field to tie the game at 9-9.

The Pirates held South Carolina scoreless in the tenth, and then Harris went to work again, driving home a lumbering Kyle Roller with the game winner.

Roller slid in headfirst and then pandemonium struck Clark-LeClair Stadium.

“It’s a shame when two teams battle like that that somebody has to lose,” said coach Billy Godwin after the win. “On the flip side of that I’m very proud of our players and what they’ve accomplished. It was just an outstanding effort. They never quit. We played five games in three days and to come back and win three in a row was absolutely outstanding. I couldn’t be any prouder of these guys.”

The Pirates are now headed to their first Super Regional since 2004 when ECU faced South Carolina in Columbia. The Pirates and Tar Heels will open the Super Regional on Saturday at noon at Boshamer Stadium.

Devin Harris had a look in his eye when the subject of playing North Carolina came up.

“Carolina’s next,” said Harris. “It’s going to be exciting. They’re a big rival so it’s going to be fun.”

I don’t know how much more “fun” the Pirate faithful can take. The fourth largest crowd in Clark-LeClair Stadium history (5,047) held its collective breath on every pitch in the final innings.

Fans held up signs with the number “23,” jumping up and down in the celebration after Harris’s game-winning hit. The gesture was a tribute to former ECU coach Keith LeClair, who wore that jersey number.

The stadium named to honor LeClair, who we lost to Lou Gehrig's Disease, has never seen a prouder moment. Keith LeClair had to be beaming with pride from above. His wife Lynn and the LeClair children came to town to help open the regional, and you had better believe that Keith was waving Kyle Roller home along with the rest of the crowd at Clark-LeClair.

The Pirates are two wins away from fulfilling LeClair’s dream of going to Omaha.

It certainly won’t be easy against North Carolina. The Pirates and Tar Heels fought to a 1-1 draw in the regular season, so this should be a great series.

Chapel Hill is on the way to Omaha, in more ways then one!


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06/05/2009 01:06:43 AM


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