I got the surprise of my life when people were complaining about a DR editorial. You mean the BYH column is not the...

McDonnell: ECU is going to bust through to Omaha

NCAA Louisville East Carolina Baseball

Louisville baseball coach Dan McDonnell, right, talks with East Carolina coach Cliff Godwin after Louisville defeated ECU 12-0 in Saturday in Louisville, Ky., to end the Pirates' season.


The Daily Reflector

Sunday, June 9, 2019

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It was a difficult postgame exchange between East Carolina fifth-year baseball coach Cliff Godwin and Louisville 13th year coach Dan McDonnell on Saturday afternoon, much like it was difficult on the Pirates during their two NCAA super regional losses to Louisville to end ECU’s season.

But McDonnell had encouraging words for Godwin, and the Cardinals coach had unique insight about ECU baseball that rolled into his portion of the super regional championship postgame news conference.

Louisville is preparing for its fifth trip to Omaha, Neb., for the College World Series, all under McDonnell and beginning with his first year in charge in 2007, and the Pirates were left still trying to find their first path to Omaha. ECU lost 14-1 and 12-0 to Louisville.

ECU has been to 30 NCAA regionals, which is the most among schools that have never made it to Omaha.

“We broke through that first year, and probably didn’t have as much pressure as ECU has right now,” said McDonnell, whose Cardinals won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season this year and then went 0-2 at the ACC tournament in Durham. “We actually had more pressure in 2013 or ’14. That first year we just kind of caught everybody by surprise, and I learned how well kids can play when they are having fun and you have joy.

“If (ECU) keeps that coach and keeps that staff, that group is going to bust through to Omaha and when they do, look out, because it will be more than once.”

McDonnell added that super regional series can be equally crushing to the eight teams that lose as they are enjoyable for the eight teams that advance to the sport’s biggest and brightest stage.

“As much as it hurts right now, you just have to learn to embrace it and I hope (Godwin’s) fan base and his administration and people understand that it is a tough spot to be in,” McDonnell said. “Eight teams are crushed this weekend.”

The Pirates will lose about one-third of their roster from this team that won 47 games, including a new league record of 20 in the American Athletic Conference. ECU had seven seniors on its roster and five juniors drafted in the Major League Baseball draft.

Some of the upperclassmen, like shortstop Turner Brown and relief pitcher Sam Lanier, were key members of the 2016 team that won Game 1 of a super regional in Lubbock, Texas. That win put East Carolina one more closer to reaching the CWS, but it was host Texas Tech that then parlayed 3-1 (in 13 innings) and 11-0 victories over East Carolina into a trip to Omaha.

Among their five super regional series, the Pirates have never hosted in Greenville at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

“To be in a super regional on the road is always difficult,” Lanier said Saturday. “It was hard then and it’s hard right now. I’m just really proud of the way that this group of guys by my side has performed the last four years or five years.”

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


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


August 22, 2019

First-year East Carolina defensive coordinator Bob Trott and first-year Pirate football head coach Mike Houston were similar with their words Wednesday that they think they know what to expect from N.C. State's offense, but they said preparing for an opponent during Week 1 of the season is…


August 21, 2019

Many intricacies and focuses for East Carolina football players have changed with Monday's start to the fall semester and the N.C. State game a little more than a week away, but Pirate coach Mike Houston had no plans of intensity dipping with the transition from preseason workouts to in-season and…


August 20, 2019

No more waiting for Holton Ahlers or the rest of the East Carolina football team or Pirate fans.

With next Saturday’s noon kickoff at N.C. State getting closer and closer, first-year Pirate coach Mike Houston officially announced after Tuesday’s practice that Ahlers will be his…


August 20, 2019

Quarterback Holton Ahlers led East Carolina’s football team in rushing last season with 592 yards and six touchdowns on 119 carries.

New offensive principles are in place at ECU under a new coaching staff, leading to some intrigue about Ahlers and his run availability. Would this staff, led…


August 19, 2019

East Carolina first-year football coach Mike Houston described the Pirates' No. 1 center, Branden Pena, as a "tough joker" on Saturday.

The football-centric praise showed how far the relationship has come between Pena and Houston since December.

"Branden Pena is a guy that I didn't know his name…


August 17, 2019

Moments of reflection Saturday brought East Carolina first-year head football coach Mike Houston back to the spring.

The physicality he saw Saturday during the Pirates' final preseason scrimmage was vastly different from the spring Purple-Gold Game.

Darius Pinnix displayed his punishing rushing…


August 17, 2019

East Carolina’s football players were asked about their favorite ice cream flavor Saturday and they got the opportunity to pick on teammates, but there also were serious questions pointed their way about the Aug. 31 opener at N.C. State and the rest of an important season for the Pirates…


August 17, 2019

In an exhibition match defined by defense, Jenna Dages scored the only goal for the East Carolina women’s soccer team to top VCU 1-0 on Friday night inside Johnson Stadium.

Dages’ goal came at the 45:34 mark. From there, goalie Meaghan Haley and ECU's defense helped to maintain the lead.…


August 17, 2019

Here are five East Carolina football players who have stepped up during preseason camp and will be looking to continue their momentum when the Pirates complete camp with a scrimmage Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium:

1. Xavier Smith, linebacker: Smith has kind of quietly morphed from a tight end…


August 16, 2019

East Carolina’s football practice Friday morning ended with center Branden Pena snapping to quarterback Holton Ahlers in the victory formation, and then the Pirates celebrated. Kicker Jake Verity also made a 57-yard field goal during a late-game sequence.

On the day before an important…

169 stories in ECU. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 17
        Next Page»   Last Page»