Juco PG Charles
Point guard Charles Foster has
become the fourth member of ECU
coach Jeff Lebo's recruiting class
of 2015-16. One of the top players
in Kentucky coming out of high
school, Foster spent the last two
years at perennial junior college
powerhouse Vincennes (IN) University. ...
Pirates ride momentum into tourney
East Carolina heads to the Sunshine State for tournament play this week
at the American Athletic Conference Baseball Championship. The Pirates
carry plenty of momentum to Clearwater, FL, after sweeping Cincinnati.
ECU finished the regular season one game out of a share of the AAC title
with Houston. ...
Audio: The Brian
Brian Bailey Show
airs on Pirate Radio
on Mondays at
6:30 p.m. Brian's
guest this week was
ECU baseball coach
Cliff Godwin (right)
and D.H. Conley
coaches Jason Mills
(baseball) and Wayne
CINCINNATI — Luke
Lowery's RBI double
in the top of the
eighth inning lifted
East Carolina to an
8-7 win on Saturday
and completed a
three-game sweep at
the regular season
at 36-20 overall and
15-9 in the American
ECU captures series at Cincy
East Carolina scored three runs in the top
of the fourth inning after Cincinnati had
taken a 1-0 lead in the second and the
Pirates went on to a 6-4 American Athletic
Conference win over the Bearcats on Friday
night. The outcome clinched the series for
ECU, which improved to 35-20 overall and
14-9 in league play. ...
ECU tops Cincinnati,
East Carolina opened its American Athletic
Conference series at Cincinnati with a 7-3
win on Thursday night. Reid Love (7-3)
pitched seven innings as a three-run fifth
inning put the Pirates (34-20, 13-9 AAC)
ahead to stay. ...
Senior Nights and Days for Pirates
Carolina officially celebrated
Senior Night with a 7-0 win over
Elon at Clark-LeClair Stadium on
Tuesday night. There have been
numerous senior afternoons and
evenings for the Pirates throughout
the 2015 season because Hunter Allen
and Reid Love have played such big
More from Al Myatt...
Pictured: Hunter Allen, top left,
is shown turning a
6-3 double play in
an ECU win over
Princeton on March
17. Reid Love, top
right, is pictured
Pirates coach Cliff
Godwin after his
leadoff triple in
the bottom of the
9th set up a
over N.C. State on
April 21. Heading
into the final
series of the
regular season, the
have been stalwart
performers as the
Pirates have made a
run at the American
title while keeping
their eyes on a
(Photos by W.A.
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CLEARWATER, FL — East
Carolina baseball coach Cliff Godwin and Pirates assistant Jeff Palumbo
used to be on the staff at Central Florida, the Pirates' opening
opponent in the American Athletic Conference tournament at Bright House
The Knights were a tough
draw for ECU, seeded No. 2 for the event as the regular season AAC
runner-up to Houston, even though the Knights were seeded seventh
for the eight-team tournament.
UCF was ranked No. 9 in
early March and split a series with then-No. 2 Florida.
The Knights started
senior right-hander Zach Rodgers, who was 10-0 coming into the 11
a.m. matchup on Wednesday. The tournament location is less than two
hours driving time from the UCF campus.
The Pirates were down
3-1 going to the bottom of the seventh and still trailed 3-2
entering the eighth. Despite its accomplishments this season, ECU
was 0-14 when trailing after seven innings in 2015.
Despite that boatload of
adversity, the Pirates took a 4-3 victory, even after the first
potential winning run was tagged out at the plate in the bottom of
Godwin had to get a
possible ear infection checked out later Wednesday so Palumbo pinch
hit for a postgame interview. The ECU assistant said Godwin had the
condition addressed medically and that it shouldn't be a factor as
he performs his responsibilities during the remainder of the week.
Pinch runner Parker Lamm
was out at home trying to score from second on a double off the
right field fence by Hunter Allen for the second out in the bottom
of the ninth.
"We don't score the run
with one out and Charlie (Yorgen) falls behind in the count, 0-2,"
Palumbo said. "He really just battled, They had him shaded just a
little bit towards the four hole there. Charlie was able to get a
change-up that was a little bit up there and stay on it just enough
to bang the baseball up the middle to score Hunter."
The Pirates got some
running in as Yorgen was tracked down and dog piled.
The outcome put the
Pirates in a 7 p.m. game with third-seeded Tulane (34-21) tonight.
There are two four-team brackets in the tournament. It's double
elimination through the bracket finals on Saturday. The two bracket
survivors meet Sunday at noon for the tournament championship on
Godwin's remarks to the team as the Pirates improved to 37-20, the
program's most wins since the 2011 club went 41-21.
"He's proud of them,"
Palumbo said. "We don't play a ton of 11 o'clock games. It's a
little bit unique for the guys, especially in the middle of the
week. It's not so much about motivating them as just getting them
going and getting their bodies going. It's a little bit of a
different heat here and trying to get them prepared for those things
and how to handle that. We told them that you guys have earned
everything you've accomplished this year and it's going to have to
be the same thing here. Whether you're the two or the one or the
eight, nobody cares, records are out the window. A few of the teams
here are really playing for their lives within their season. We have
to be ready to go out and compete. Nobody is going to give us
The matchup with the
Knights was a case in point. UCF (31-26) took a 1-0 lead in the top
of the second against Pirates ace Reid Love, who battled for eight
innings with no decision. Love allowed nine hits and three earned
runs in eight-plus innings while walking one and striking out nine.
ECU answered in the
bottom of the second with a solo homer to left by Travis Watkins,
his third of the season, to tie the score at 1.
The contest was
deadlocked until UCF's Dylan Moore had a two-run single in the top
of the seventh for a 3-1 Knights lead.
Bryce Harman doubled
down the right field line for ECU to start the bottom of the
seventh. A chop to the right side by Eric Tyler got Harman to third
and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Garrett Brooks to draw the
Pirates within 3-2.
Luke Lowery's triple and
a sacrifice fly by Watkins tied the score at 3 in the eighth.
ECU brought Joe Ingle to
the mound after Love surrendered a leadoff single in the ninth. The
freshman right-hander, who has six saves, picked up his first win.
Tyler was hit by a pitch
to start the bottom of the ninth. Lamm came in as his pinch runner.
A sacrifice bunt by Brooks moved Lamm to second. Allen doubled off
the right field wall but Erik Barber played the ricochet and started
the sequence that retired Lamm short of the plate.
ECU outhit the Knights
11-9 and neither team committed an error. Allen went 3-for-5. Yorgen
and Kirk Morgan each had two hits.
The Pirates began
preparing for tonight's game shortly after the tournament opener in
terms of hydration and nutrition. Tourist time is over although the
team did get to go to the beach after arriving from the completion
of the series at Cincinnati.
"We monitored how long
they were in the sun and in the water," Palumbo said.
The Pirates have
transitioned to business mode and that means pregame meal at 3 p.m.
"We'll try to find a
place to get some swings in the morning," Palumbo said. "From three
o'clock on, it will be our traditional set up. We'll go through some
meetings to get the guys prepared for who they're going to face on
the mound and Coach (Dan) Roszel will take the pitchers and get them
prepared. ... We'll get prepared with infield and outfield
Projections show the
Pirates in the NCAA Tournament field.
"That's always in the
back of your mind," Palumbo said. "At the beginning of the season
when we set our goals and what we wanted to accomplish, an American
Athletic Conference championship was a huge piece of that and we
have that opportunity this week. We'll take that step (NCAAs), when
we get to it. Hopefullly, that's Monday. We'll find out where we're
going to get an opportunity to go compete.
"Winning a conference
championship is special. Getting a chance to put that ring on is
something that these guys have been working for. It's something that
they're very, very focused on. They want to win a championship. They
came up a game short in the regular season of our goal and it's
something that Coach Godwin reminded them about today. We had a goal
in mind and we didn't accomplish that in the regular season. The
nice part is we've got a tournament here to try and achieve that."
Palumbo wears No. 22,
one number less than the No. 23 that Godwin wears to honor the
memory of his former ECU coach, Keith LeClair.
"That was the number
that I wore in college," said Palumbo, who had an outstanding career
at George Mason.
He has worked on staffs
at his alma mater (2006-08), UCF (2009-11) and Virginia Commonwealth
"Since I got out of
college, I said 'Let's keep it rolling,'" Palumbo said. "That's what
I've worn at all my stops so far. One year at VCU when I got there
... I never want to take it away from a player. If I get to a spot
and a player has it, I let them finish out their career in it and
then I'll go in if it's available and take it."
Keys in AAC
Success in the league
event involves the Pirates playing to their potential.
"Really just playing our
baseball," Palumbo said. "Today, obviously, Reid Love gave us a
fantastic start on the mound. ... We played very clean defense. We
didn't get any clutch hits in the first part of the game but late in
the game we were able to get some of those clutch hits.
"When it gets down to
it, it's just about playing consistent baseball. You get it going
with the bats and you kind of make a run deep into the tournament.
Just being ourselves. These guys have done that all year long
through the ups and downs. They're a very close-knit group. ... Play
good, quality baseball. At the end of the day, you've got to get
good starts on the mound and conserve some of that pitching because
it is a long week.
"These guys throw
strikes and play good defense, we should be in good shape."
There is a consensus
surrounding the program that Godwin has had a positive influence in
his first season, a contention validated earlier this week when he
was named AAC Coach of the Year in voting by his peers.
Palumbo has worked with
first-year coaches in programs on multiple occasions.
"Coach Godwin has
brought to the guys some freshness and a little bit of a positive
new energy," Palumbo said. "The players could probably attest to
that more than I could. ... One thing that I've noticed is that
these guys have enjoyed coming up to the field as much as any team
I've coached in the last decade. They really enjoy themselves. They
enjoy being around each other. ... Every team is enjoyable in their
own way but it's not as enjoyable as this team has been. You kind of
fight some things and try to get guys to buy in to what you're
trying to emphasize with a new program.
"These guys that are
here right now in that locker room have bought in to Coach Godwin
and really, really embraced his philosophy and, most importantly,
how he wants them to play the game. In talking with people who have
been around the program and scouts that have seen the program over
time, that's the one thing that they continue to tell me is how hard
our guys play, how much they get after it and how consistent they
are with their energy. That's the biggest thing. ... We brought some
new philosophies to the guys. Coach Godwin has asked them to play a
certain way. Once we got going in the middle of the season, they
started to see the positive effects of that, their work ethic, how
they've gone about it, how we kind of pushed them to be tougher with
our early season workouts. They've kind of embraced that. Really,
that's kind of helped them believe in themselves and what we're
trying to accomplish.
"It's like a snowball
that's going downhill. It's hard to stop. I think that's where we
are right now. Those guys are very, very excited. ... They're a
close-knit group who have bought in to what Coach has asked them to
do. They've seen the good things start to happen. They're hard to
stop right now."
New talent enlisted
Godwin and his staff are
playing primarily with personnel they didn't recruit. They have
adapted players who were in the program to demanding standards, an
area where Godwin was impacted by LeClair's approach at the outset
of his tenure with the Pirates.
That will change next
season with the arrival of the first recruiting class in the Cliff
"We have a talented
group of 18 guys right now that will be coming in next year," said
Palumbo, who serves as recruiting coordinator as well as defensive
coach for the infielders and as offensive assistant in support of
Some of ECU's signees
are potential draft choices.
"Our sport is different
than any other sport in that manner," Palumbo said. "We're trying to
bring in the most talented players that we can but a too-talented
player is not going to show up on your campus."
Former ECU recruit Mike
Trout would be an example.
"The draft is going on
June 6-8 and we have a number of guys, I think four or five within
the class that are legitimate draft candidates," Palumbo said. "We
work with them and their families, really on just educating them. We
don't need to sell them. I feel like East Carolina and the program
we're building sells itself. It's more about educating them on
college and getting a fantastic degree. The pro ball side of things
seems very, very glamorous if you're a 17- or 18-year old kid
because they watch the big league games on TV and they hear about
the big league life. They don't always hear about the steps those
guys have taken to get there and how difficult that can be.
"At the end of the day,
bypassing an education can be tough. We just try to educate them on
what we're about, what we have and what we're going to be able to
provide them. ... We try to educate them as much as we can on the