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Roszel remains as Pirate 'glue guy'

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East Carolina pitching coach Dan Roszel shows a grip to Tyler Smith during a preseason practice.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Monday, February 12, 2018

There was a time in early June 2014 when uncertainty surrounded the East Carolina baseball program.

Coach Billy Godwin had been let go after nine seasons in charge and a coaching search created a lull before former ECU player Cliff Godwin (no relation) was hired as the program’s 16th head coach on June 25, 2014.

During that intermission and kind of like a “glue guy” on a good basketball team, pitching coach Dan Roszel was there to keep things as stable as possible.

“Dan was talking to recruits and talking to guys like Evan Kruczynski, who had kind of planned on transferring, and he held everything together,” Cliff Godwin said before a recent practice. “While we were getting the coaching staff together, he shared the vision with the players on the current roster and the recruits. He was a huge asset for us.”

Roszel remains an asset to the Pirates as a highly regarded pitching guru in the college baseball profession. 

He was the lone holdover Godwin retained from the previous staff, and when the Pirates begin their newest season Friday at home against Western Carolina it will mark Roszel’s eighth as pitching coach.

Roszel and Godwin will be in their familiar positions next to each other in the edge of the home dugout with a refined approach to handling the Pirates who step onto the pitcher’s mound at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

“The fun part is we’ve kind of grown to know each other,” Roszel said of the staff, which also has included recruiting coordinator Jeff Palumbo and director of operations Pete Buscaino for all of Godwin’s tenure. “We knew each other as opposing coaches in different scenarios and different situations, but as we’ve gone along, we know each other’s strengths and what makes each guy tick. ... This is Year 4 and it’s just one of those things where we are able to feed off each other so much now because we have the comfort level that we are going out there to work, but we also trust one another.”

Godwin said he does feel some fortune that the Pirates’ four main leaders are still together.

Palumbo continues to gain steam as a strong recruiter who could be poised for a head coaching gig soon. Buscaino and Palumbo both began at ECU on July 1, 2014, with Buscaino being versatile and able to split his time since then between volunteer assistant coach and his current role of director of baseball operations.

That duo worked previously with Godwin at Central Florida.

The four men have different background stories and likely different future aspirations, but they are jelling well at the moment and have a common goal of continuing to improve East Carolina baseball.

“We’re a family,” said Godwin, who was a catcher for the Pirates and coach Keith LeClair from 1998-2001. “I mean ultimately I’m the guy who has to make the decisions, but they have a lot of say, behind closed doors, of what is going on. ... When the Alabama stuff came up (in 2016 when the Crimson Tide tried to hire away Godwin from the Pirates), one of the first things for me was to try and get those guys raises because they deserved it.”

Roszel is entering his 16th straight season as a pitching coach at the NCAA level. His career has been defined by tutoring future Major League Baseball players, including now-Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale when both were at Florida Gulf Coast.

Former Pirate pitching great Seth Maness made his MLB debut in 2013. Other ECU products who have since pitched in the majors are Chris Heston, Mike Wright, Shawn Armstrong, Jeff Hoffman and Jharel Cotton.

“What I’ve found here is that I can produce big-leaguers, because we have the talent and guys who can move on to the next level,” said Roszel, a 2000 graduate of the University of North Florida. “I’ve always wanted to not only help guys with their lives and make them better men, but I want them to get that dream and the aspirations that I wanted as a player. I wanted to be in the big leagues and I didn’t make it, so it’s great for them to make it and look up and see all of those Pirates in the big leagues.”

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

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