Woody Peele

Woody's Ramblings
Wednesday, February 17, 2015

By Woody Peele


Pirates primed for encore and more

Next: Longwood at ECU | Friday, 4 pm

View full schedule on ECUPirates.com


East Carolina coach Cliff Godwin addresses a gathering of ECU baseball fans last season at Harvey Hall. (Photo courtesy of WNCT-TV)

Bryce Harman brings power to the middle of the Pirates' lineup. The junior first baseman has 14 career homers, including this solo blast against UConn last season. (Photo by W.A. Myatt)


Pirates fall to South Florida

GREENVILLE — GREENVILLE — Octavius Ellis and Gary Clark each had double-doubles to lead Cincinnati to a 75-60 American Athletic Conference win over East Carolina before 12,513 at Fifth Third Arena on Saturday. ... More...

Next: ECU at SMU | Sunday | 2 pm | TV: ESPNN



Snow signals baseball season

Ice and snow… Freezing temperatures… Welcome to baseball season at East Carolina! The Pirates opened game week on Monday with freezing rain falling, causing treacherous driving conditions all over eastern North Carolina. ... More from Brian Bailey...

Audio: The Brian Bailey Show

The Brian Bailey Show airs on Pirate Radio 1250 on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. Brian's guest this week was ECU assistant baseball coach Jeff Palumbo: Replay show...



Walk waived in Wave win

A photographic trail indicates that the outcome of last Wednesday's East Carolina-Tulane game may have been different if the officiating crew had blown the whistle on a pivotal play by the Green Wave's Louis Dabney. The play in question, which prevented the Pirates from winning in regulation, set the stage for Tulane to prevail in extra periods. ... More, including a 10-frame animation...



Bearcat bigs help turn back ECU

CINCINNATI — Octavius Ellis and Gary Clark each had double-doubles to lead Cincinnati to a 75-60 American Athletic Conference win over East Carolina before 12,513 at Fifth Third Arena on Saturday. ... More...



Howe a prize catch for Pirates

Hussein Howe may not be a football prodigy, but he certainly was ahead of his time at University Christian High School. Howe was so talented as an eighth grader at the private school of about 700 students in Jacksonville, FL, that coach David Penland promoted him to the varsity squad near the end of the 2011 season. ... More from Sammy Batten...

Thumbnails: ECU's recruiting class of 2016...



Green Wave sinks Pirates in 3 OTs

GREENVILLE — The East Carolina basketball team must have a stout heart because it got broken – again – on Wednesday night. The Pirates' latest venture into disappointment was a 100-92 triple overtime loss to Tulane in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum. ECU slipped to 10-14 overall and 2-9 in the American Athletic Conference despite leading 49-36 with 14 minutes left in regulation. The Pirates had a five-point advantage in the last two minutes of the first extra period. ... Story & pictures...

Pictured: Tulane's Louis Dabney had 32 points in the Green Wave's triple OT win over East Carolina Wednesday night, including this hoop at the end of regulation that sent the game into extra periods. (Photo by Al Myatt)

Post-game audio: Coaches & players...


By Woody Peele
©2015 Bonesville.net
All Rights Reserved.

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Ol' Gomer Pyle would have smiled from ear to ear and hollered out: “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”

That's how East Carolina's baseball team celebrated its 2015 American Athletic Conference championship last season. Nobody expected the Pirates, with a first-year coach, to post 40 victories and walk off with the league's top trophy.

“A lot of people thought we were undermanned last year, whether it be the opposition or the fans.” said Cliff Godwin, set to start his second campaign as the head Pirate. “And that's why it's so neat.”

Perhaps not. They weren't the most talented, Godwin pointed out, but they were a great team and they put East Carolina baseball back on the map and got everybody fired up.

Now, they're out to do it again.

“We're deeper on the mound,” the coach said. “We're more athletic. We have more experience with the group of guys coming back and the newcomers. We're really excited about this year's team.”

Not that there weren't a few key losses from last year's squad. Gone are three of the team's top hitters, shortstop Hunter Allen (.349 average), outfielder Luke Lowery (.311, team high 49 runs batted in) and utility player Reid Love (.287).

But the mound staff returns intact, along with Davis Kirkpatrick, who missed last year on the injury list.

“We've got more confidence in our pitching at this time as compared to last year,” Godwin said. “We have more experience, more innings and great recruiting. Getting Kirkpatrick back will be a help.”

On offense, Godwin said the Pirates were “pretty one-dimensional” last year but have a chance to be more dynamic this season. Defensively, the team was a good one (.971 average).

“But we have a chance to be even better this year,” the coach said.

While Lowery's team-leading 12 home runs are gone, Godwin believes first-baseman Bryce Harman has a chance to hit for power at least a dozen times during the season.

"Most everyone else could hit three to six homers each,” Godwin added.

One of the key elements from last year – the team spirit – is still there.

“Our older guys have done a tremendous job of welcoming the new players into our program and showing them the ropes,” Godwin said. “Most of our guys were here for summer school working out with our strength coach for about six weeks and that made for a good transition.”

Another big boost for the team was its academic progress. During the fall semester, 28 of the 34 players earned honor roll or better standings.

“This is a great accomplishment by our program,” Godwin said. “Our guys worked extremely hard and were very detail-oriented in the classroom this fall. This is the highest team GPA of any program I have ever been associated with throughout my coaching career.”

When the Pirates take the field on Friday, seven positions could see returning players trotting out to their spots. Travis Watkins (.292, 36 rbi) will be behind the plate where he saw starting action 58 times last year. Harman will return to first base but the rest of the infield could see a number of changes.

Charlie Yorgen (.283, 27 rbi) could see action either at second base or third while freshman Brady Lloyd has been pushing for the job.

“He [Lloyd] can really run, one of the fastest guys on the team,” Godwin said.

Shortstop could go to either Turner Brown or Wesley Phillips. Brown is a freshman while Phillips is a junior college transfer. Third base also is a spot that could change with Kirk Morgan (.293, 17 rbi), Eric Tyler (.268, 27 rbi) or Yorgen at the hot corner. Morgan started 36 games last year at third.

In the outfield, Parker Lamm (.238, 10 rbi) started 26 games last year and played all three positions, although he's penciled in for left for the start of the season. Garrett Brooks (.270, 14 rbi) will be back in center while Jeff Nelson (.234) is slated for right.

Evan Kruczynski, the ace of the staff last year (8-4, 3.17 ERA) is expected to be the No. 1 hurler again this year while Jacob Wolfe (5-2, 3.35) will take on the second games on the weekends.

Jimmy Boyd (5-7, 4.73) is currently set for the No. 3 position with Kirkpatrick in the battle for that spot also.

Nick Durazo (5-1, 2.77) will likely be the top relief pitcher while Joe Ingle (1-0, 1.14) is slated for closure duty.

Despite the showing the Pirates made last year, the rest of  the AAC doesn't seem to have much respect for the team as the coaches selected ECU to finish fourth in the eight-team league this spring.

“I don't care (where they vote us)” Godwin said. “They don't pass out trophies in preseason. We don't look at that stuff. We just put our heads down and work hard to win our first game on Feb. 19 and keep moving forward.”

Godwin does admit that the Pirate have a grueling schedule. After opening the slate by hosting Longwood, the Pirates will visit defending NCAA champion Virginia. The annual Keith LeClair Classic has a strong field with Southeastern Louisiana, Tennessee and Maryland coming in. The Pirates also face Conference USA powerhouse Rice on the road.

In addition, ECU will play in-state rivals N.C. State, North Carolina, UNC-Wilmington in home-and-home games and will play single games against Duke, Elon, High Point and Campbell.

AAC games will see Houston, Connecticut, Cincinnati and South Florida visit Clark-LeClair Stadium, while the Pirates visit Tulane, Memphis, Central Florida and UConn.

The Pirates and Huskies also played twice last season. Godwin said that the league wanted to play on eight weekends, so two schools would have to play twice.

“There are some rivalries among the rest, like Central and South Florida and Houston and Tulane, so it was most financially reasonable for us to be paired with UConn," said Godwin.

Whether there will be another “Shazam” moment for the Pirate this year is about four months down the line.

“We're looking forward to the season,” Godwin said. “The guys are definitely ready.”

Can they win 40 games again?

“Our goal is to win 40 games every year,” the coach said.

And that would be no “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”

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