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I see the Mayor is getting out his signs again this year. This is a welcome sight because he deserves another term for...

Fans, team unite at Pirate regional party

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East Carolina baseball players Brady Lloyd, front, and Nick Barber high-five fans during the NCAA Baseball Championships selection show watch party at Sup Dogs on May 27, 2019. (Molly Urbina/The Daily Reflector)

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BY RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Monday, May 27, 2019

Fans began lining up at Sup Dogs hours before the NCAA baseball selection show on Monday.

They united with East Carolina’s baseball team and cheered when ECU popped up on the ESPNU telecast, and many people also cheered when N.C. State was revealed as the No. 2 seed for the NCAA Greenville Regional.

The Pirates did not play against the rival Wolfpack last season or during this regular season amid some scheduling issues, but a potential matchup between ECU and N.C. State will be a running theme all week before the double-elimination, four-team regional begins Friday at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

As host and No. 10 overall seed in the NCAA, the Pirates are matched up first with regional No. 4 seed Quinnipiac, a private university located in Hamden, Conn., at 6 p.m. on Friday. NCSU and 3-seed Campbell will play Friday at noon.

“We’re really excited and obviously there is a rivalry with N.C. State, but we have to focus on Quinnipiac first,” said Pirate outfielder Bryant Packard, a Greenville native.

Al and Mackinsay Glover were the first people in line at Sup Dogs for the Pirate selection show watch party. They drove from Smithfield and arrived at 9:15 a.m. The downtown restaurant and bar opened at 11.

“We didn’t really sleep last night,” said Mackinsay, a middle school teacher and 2016 ECU graduate. “We wanted to get here for the love of the game and seeing the guys, and we want to see them go far. … We are here about every weekend, so it was good to get up early and get here today and wander around and be around good people and good Pirate fans.”

ECU was in the running for a top-eight national seed, which would have ensured the Pirates also would host a super regional if they won their regional.

Instead, the winner of the Greenville Regional is paired with the Louisville Regional winner. ECU can still host a super regional, but only if Louisville, the No. 7 overall seed, does not win its regional.

“I thought we did enough, but unfortunately we didn’t,” Pirate coach Cliff Godwin said. “All we have to focus on now is getting ready for Friday.”

This is the first time ECU has been selected as a regional host in consecutive years. No. 2 seed South Carolina won the 2018 Greenville Regional, which was dictated at times by inclement weather and rain delays.

“I really do appreciate all the support from Pirate Nation, and let’s make it bigger and louder than it’s ever been,” Godwin said. “Last year was awesome, but let’s make it even louder and more crazy this weekend.”

Regional tickets already are on sale, but only for Pirate Club members and season ticket holders, via ECUPirates.com.

Ticket sales will open to the general public beginning Wednesday at 9 a.m. All-session ticket books cost $90, $72 or $60, depending on seat location. Single-game tickets, ranging from $10-15, will go on sale Friday at 11 a.m. if they are still available.

Last year’s Greenville Regional was sold out prior to the first day of games.

Monday’s party included fans forming a line to high-five Pirate players and coaches as soon as they got off their team bus and entered their reserved area at Sup Dogs.

Greenville Mayor P.J. Connelly, an ECU baseball player in 2004-05, addressed the crowd, along with Godwin and East Carolina athletics director Jon Gilbert.

“This speaks to the passion of our people, and it really is exciting to be part of a program like this,” said Gilbert, who was hired from Southern Miss in December.

A regional champion will be crowned either Sunday night or Monday afternoon. All Greenville Regional games will be available to stream via ESPN3.

Connelly also announced Monday that “Batter Uptown,” a pep rally-style party at Five Points Plaza, is set for Thursday at 6 p.m., featuring a free concert by country singer Craig Campbell.

The Pirates have made it to four super regional series in their history but never hosted in Greenville, and they have never won a super regional to make the eight-team College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

This will be ECU’s 30th NCAA tournament appearance.

“It’s awesome that we have two in-state teams coming, and we just want the fans to pack Clark-LeClair,” senior shortstop Turner Brown said. “(Seeding) wasn’t up to us and is something we couldn’t control, so our job is to go out and play good baseball wherever we are put. This regional is coming through Greenville, so we are still ecstatic about that.”

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

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