The ECU Pirates are finally back to playing like the ECU Pirates again. We all know over an entire season they put together some of the best baseball in the country. But with the 1-2 performance, with two losses to Wichita State, in the AAC Tournament and then the opening loss against Quinnipiac it felt safe to say ECU was struggling. That all turned around with their season on the line. ECU won four straight games, rival NC State, Quinnipiac, and Campbell twice. They outscored the opponent 44-11 in those games.
That is Pirate baseball at its best when everything is rolling and not any one aspect by itself. Jake Agnos, the AAC Pitcher-of-the-Year, put together a big-time performance. Jake Washer hit everything over the fence, and Bryant Packard couldn’t get out. The bullpen was almost completely air-tight. Alec Burleson and Bryson Worrell each threw runners out at home plate from the outfield. Turner Brown was a walking web gem all weekend long, on par for his whole ECU career. Burleson, Agnos, and others provided their on-brand intensity throughout games. They got leadoff hitters on base, leading to them perfectly executing hit-and-runs and tons of sacrifice bunts. The list goes on and on.
Now, ECU has all the momentum in the world as it heads to Louisville, Kentucky to play the Super Regional round against the No. 7 national seeded Cardinals. This will be their fifth Super Regional appearance and the second one under Godwin. The Pirates postseason is all about redemption. They have already redeemed the 2018 Greenville Regional. Now it’s on to the next. Remember they were just one win away from taking down Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas in 2016, so the goal is to try to redeem that this time around.
Other takeaways from the Greenville Regional:
Spoils go to the victor: Catcher Jake Washer received the tournament’s highest honor, as Most Outstanding Player. ECU cleaned up with the All-Tournament team as well, with Washer representing at catcher, Bryant Packard and Alec Burleson each nabbing outfield spots and Jake Agnos earning a spot at pitcher.
Redeem team: ECU, thanks in part to some poor weather, had a rough 2018 Regional at home. The Pirates lost back-to-back games against South Carolina and UNCW after an impressive regular season run and AAC Tournament title. ECU came into the same situation this year and it seemed like it would happen again after the opening loss to Quinnipiac. Instead, ECU ran off four consecutive wins to advance.
Overwhelming crowd support: Monday night’s game 7 win featured a crowd of 5,206, the fifth-highest in Clark-LeClair Stadium history. The Pirate nation showed up big time all weekend long, sitting through the exasperating weather delays on Friday and Saturday. The Pirates needed it to battle through the loser’s bracket and the fans lived up to it every time. Even in Monday’s early game, with a 1 p.m. start time, enough people snuck out of work to come and almost fill the stands and jungle completely. The crowd support was so much that it choked up ECU head coach Cliff Godwin.
The Jungle: This is easily one of the better college baseball experiences, and perhaps getting up there in terms of college athletics experiences. The jungle crowd out in left field has befriended many opposing players before. This weekend was similar, as Quinnipiac pitcher Colin Donnely was a fan favorite before he even arrived in Greenville. He asked for “Welcome to the Jungle” to be played as his walk-up song. ECU fans also gave Quinnipiac left fielder a care package to take home, and he said they made his final series a good one.
Poor weather: Did this one even surprise you? It did not rain at all for two weeks before the Greenville Regional. Postseason baseball in Greenville brings on the storms. Just like the 2018 Greenville Regional, this one had multiple weather delays and a postponement. ECU thankfully overcame the poor weather this time around.
Back in black: ECU ripped off all four elimination game wins wearing their black uniforms. Baseball is a very superstitious sport. The players said after the game that they definitely have to go with the same jersey until they lose. I don’t know if it was the jersey, but if they try to switch it up and end up losing… then you have your answer.
Never goes how you think: Going into the Regional, all the talk was about NC State. Either the potential ECU-State matchup or how dangerous the Wolfpack could be as a No. 2 seed. We ended up getting that coveted matchup but in the loser’s bracket. The Wolfpack were a non-factor in the end. They went 0-2 and Will Wilson, now the No. 15 pick by the Los Angeles Angels, couldn’t have had a worse Regional. In the end, Quinnipiac became the fan-favorite opponent and it was Campbell who threatened to advance after starting 2-0.