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East Carolina Hall of Famer and
former baseball coach Keith LeClair.
 (Photo: ECU Media Relations)

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Editor's note: This feature
coordinated by Denny O'Brien.


From The Dugout

By Keith LeClair

Pirates aim for top seed, friendly venue

Guess what? Regional time is almost upon us.

This time of year is the hardest on the coaching staff, but the most fun for the players and fans. I can remember these final days of the season and being a nervous wreck on the inside. I may have looked like the Right Guard guy on the outside, but believe me it can be a nerve-racking stretch drive.

I feel for Coach Mazey and his staff and commend them for a tremendous job thus far this season. When you begin the season, you are looking to put your team in position to secure an at-large bid, so your backs are not up against the wall having to win a conference tournament. Once you have put yourself in that position, like the Pirates have this year, your focus turns to seeding and hosting a Regional.

The stretch run and how you finish are critical in the committee’s eyes in awarding Regional sites. This is why the last 15 or so games can drive a coach up the wall, or in my case turn my hair gray.

Three scenarios play themselves out during this time:

1. You stumble a bit and find yourself on the road during regional play. Or, sometimes you can just get a bad break from the committee in deciding regional sites — or your bid was just not competitive enough. Those can all take place.

For example, in '99 we traveled to LSU as their No. 1 seed, to which I may add the local folks didn't take to kindly, and we ended up losing in the finals in front of about 8,000 crazy Cajuns. To this day, I believe that had an effect on the strike zone late in the game that cost us a huge out. Hey, I just realized I can say that and not get reprimanded. Boy, that felt good to get off my chest after all those years.

I think you're starting to get the picture why hosting a Regional and Super Regional is darn important. Does purple and gold mean anything to you? Thought so!

2. You host a Regional, but are not one of the top eight national seeds. That means, if you win your Regional and one of the top eight seeds doesn't lose, you end up going on the road for the Super Regional.

3. The best possible scenario is being a top eight national seed and playing at home until somebody beats you, like back in 2001. I won't go there because it brings up too many bad memories, so lets skip that one.

If you take a look at past history, concerning the teams that played their way into Omaha, you will notice about 80% or more hosted a Regional. If I am not mistaken, last year only one team came through its Super Regional to Omaha on the road, and that was Southwest Missouri State, which knocked off Ohio State. That is why the construction of this new East Carolina baseball facility is so important to our program and the Pirates fans. Not that we do not appreciate the folks in Kinston and Wilson, but just look at our record over the years at Harrington Field.

But for this year, we will just keep plugging along and supporting the Pirates regardless of where they play. Hopefully it will be a Regional in Kinston, Super Regional in Wilson and on to to Omaha.

My hat's off to Coach Mazey, Coach Eason, Coach Osborne, Coach Schnabel and the team for a great season thus far. But remember, we have a lot of games to play.

The coach will come out of me if I don't stop writing. Oh well, I have to say it anyway: Guys, take it one pitch, one out, one inning and one game at a time. I can say that having coached with Coach Mazey, he preaches the same thing.

NC State Game: Pirates 6 Bad Guys 3

I just want to say that as I listened to the voice, Jeff Charles, and Coach Overton on the radio Wednesday night, I could not help but hear our fans. I thought, is this a home or road game?

We have the greatest fans in the country and lets keep the jungle rocking this weekend for Louisville. If we want to host a Regional, the best advice I can give is to pack the house and keep the beer off the opposing left fielder.

Kudos to Tracy

Congrats Chad Tracy for being called up to the Diamondbacks this week. I believe Chad is the first Pirate to be called up to the big leagues since former Pirates great Pat Watkins.

And I can honestly say that nobody deserves it anymore than Mr. Chad Tracy. Go get 'em and let everyone know what ECU baseball is all about.

If you have a question or comment about the Pirates in particular or baseball in general, fire your best pitch at Ol' Condo: Sound off to Coach LeClair...

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02.23.07 10:27 AM


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