05/30/12 — Pirates get at-large bid to Chapel Hill regional

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Pirates get at-large bid to Chapel Hill regional

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 30, 2012 1:48 PM

GREENVILLE -- Full of tension and anxiety, East Carolina's baseball team gathered inside its meeting room at Clark-LeClair Stadium and watched the unveiling of the 64-team NCAA tournament Monday afternoon.

The Pirates soon exhaled a huge sigh of relief.

Despite its season-ending slump, East Carolina received an at-large bid and is the No. 2 seed for the Chapel Hill Regional, which begins Friday at Boshamer Stadium on the University of North Carolina campus. The Pirates (35-22-1 overall) will face third-seeded St. John's at 1 p.m., while the top-seeded Tar Heels oppose fourth-seeded Cornell.

The four-team, double-elimination regional continues through Sunday.

"The first thing I thought was how in the world did we get a two seed?" ECU first baseman John Wooten said. "It's been nerve racking at times ... one of those things that you're not in control of and you just hope for the best. We're very gracious for the opportunity to go play.

"No one around here was ready to hang it up."

East Carolina is making its 12th regional appearance in the past 14 years and 26th overall in program history. The Pirates and Red Storm (37-21) have met seven times, including twice in the Charlottesville (Va.) Regional a year ago.

Four losses in its final six regular-season games had the team wondering if it had done enough to receive an at-large invitation. Two damaging losses in the Conference USA tournament before a victory over eventual champion UAB increased those concerns.

But an RPI of 26 undoubtedly helped and swayed the selection committee. Of the 64 teams in this year's field, East Carolina compiled a 13-9 record against 10 institutions.

"I'm glad that we got in," senior catcher Zach Wright said. "There were definitely some doubts. We didn't do too well in the conference tournament, but winning one game against UAB really helped us out."