ARTICLE OF THE DAY

Tempe Regional
by Coach Gary Overton
5/31/05

East Carolina’s Baseball Pirates will play in its seventh consecutive post-season after earning a No. 3 seed in the Tempe Regional in this year's NCAA Baseball Championships. The Pirates (35-24) will play host No. 2 Arizona State (34-22) in the first round of the regional while top-seeded Coastal Carolina will face No. 4 UNLV. With the bid, ECU is one of just twelve teams nationally that have made seven consecutive NCAA appearances from 1999 to 2005.

All 2005 NCAA Regionals will be played June 3-6 at sixteen different sites across the country and the winner of ECU’s regional in Tempe will face off against the Cal St. Fullerton winner in a Super Regional next weekend. Here’s a quick look at ECU’s three opponents for the coming weekend:

UNLV, 34-27 overall earned the Mountain West Conference’s automatic bid by winning the league tournament this past Saturday with two wins over BYU, will be playing in their third consecutive regional and 10th overall. The Rebels will be the fourth seed in the double elimination bracket and they’re led by power hitting catcher Justin Tellum with 16 home runs this season. Outfielder Ryan Bird is the leading hitter among regulars with a .342 average. On the mound, right-handers Matt Luca, Derek Rodriguez and left-hander Koji Pupo all post adequate numbers.

Coastal Carolina earned the top seed in the Regional and will face UNLV Friday in Packard Stadium. The Chanticleers (48-14) advance to a regional for the fifth straight season and earn their first number one seed in school history. Coastal also is the only top seed in the tournament that is not a host school. The Chants have won a school record 48 games and won the regular season title in the Big South Conference although Coastal lost in the second championship game to Winthrop 13-7 in the Big South Tournament. Coastal is led offensively by junior Mike Costanzo who leads the team in batting average (.388), home runs (15) and serves as a finalist for the prestigious Dick Houser Trophy given annually to the nations best player. The two time Big South Player of the Year is both a pitcher and first baseman. Clean-up hitter Mike DeJesus transferred in from the ECU Pirate program and also claimed first team all conference honors. The Chants are led on the mound by Ricky Shefka who is 11-2 with a 2.51 ERA and leads the team with 76 strikeouts.

Arizona State is led by Travis Buck’s .388 batting average and 38 RBI’s. Jeff Larish was a preseason All-American selection and has 17 home runs and 56 RBI’s as the Sun Devils tied for third in the Pacific 10 Conference with a 15-9 record. This marks the fourth time in the last six years that ASU will host a regional, but the first time hosting at Packard Stadium since 2000. ASU also hosted in 2002 at Hohokam Park in Mesa and in 2003 at Tempe Diablo Stadium. The Sun Devils have played 31 of their 53 games this season against teams that have been ranked at some point this year. 18 of ASU’s losses have come against teams that have been ranked in 2005 and ASU has played the most games against ranked opponents (26) of any team listed in the top 25 poll.

Best of luck to the Pirates and here’s hoping this is our year.

Coach Gary Overton