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WOODWARD: Seniors deserve big night

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Senior infielders Charlie Yorgen, Eric Tyler (25) and Bryce Harman (26) huddle before heading to their positions during a game Sunday afternoon at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

It is hard to ignore that this East Carolina baseball season has not gone as expected.

The Pirates, ranked No. 6 in the nation in the preseason, are 27-25.

But on this day, for the final home game of the season tonight against Campbell, it’s OK to ignore that.

Today is all about the team’s senior class, which came into this campaign already as one of the most accomplished classes in school history. It also is a group that the will forever be closely connected to Pirate coach Cliff Godwin.

Godwin and these seniors overachieved during their first two seasons together, winning the American Athletic Conference tournament two years ago and coming so close to making the College World Series in 2016. That NCAA run last summer is the closest ECU has ever been to the CWS, and it will remain that way until the Pirates finally break through and make it to Omaha, Neb.

Charlie Yorgen, Wes Phillips, Kirk Morgan, Eric Tyler, Bryce Harman, Jacob Wolfe, Evan Kruczynski, Luke Bolka and Travis Watkins will have those memories forever. Tonight, they should shed the many frustrations surrounding this season and soak in the applause and praise that will be thrown their way before, during and after the game against the Camels at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

“They have had great careers, regardless of what happens the rest of this year,” Godwin said Sunday after ECU beat Memphis to complete a 3-1 week. “They are responsible for the culture of this baseball program changing, not just on the field but also off the field. … No matter what happens to them on the baseball field, they are going to be winners in life.

“I’m also super proud of them because they went through a coaching change. I went through a coaching change as a player and I can tell you that’s it’s different, because you got recruited by another guy and then a new (coach) comes in and there’s a trust factor in it.”

Watkins might be the quietest among the seniors, but he had the loudest hit. His game-winning home run in the ninth inning to shock Virginia in the NCAA Charlottesville Regional on June, 4, 2016, is cemented as one of the best moments in Pirate history.

Yorgen and Harman will again man the right side of the infield at Clark-LeClair Stadium tonight. If there is a list out there for the most passionate and entertaining players to have ever played baseball at ECU, they are on it.

Tyler brings a 38-game on-base streak into senior night.

Kruczynski is from Franklin, Wisc., and his family traveled to Greenville last weekend to watch him pitch in Greenville for the final time. That was a neat moment.

Tonight should be a great moment for all of East Carolina’s nine seniors. Together, they form a group that is plenty unique and plenty accomplished.

They deserve tonight.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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