Near Perfection
by Josh Spence

Only one month ago East Carolina pitcher Ricky Brooks felt a no-hitter slip through his fingers against Charlotte.   A ground ball off the glove of Pirate infielder Dale Mollenhauer, with two outs in the ninth inning, cost him that honor.  However, that honor could not evade Brooks much longer. 

Previously, the only no-hitter in Conference USA history was by Tulane's Josh Bobbitt in 1998.  Bobbitt's performance was over 7 innings. On Sunday, Ricky Brooks pitched the first nine-inning no-hitter in Conference USA history, in the Pirates 3-0 win over Memphis.  Brooks was also one base runner away from a perfect game.  In the fourth inning Memphis batter Chris Newsome beat out a throw to first after swinging at a Ricky Brooks breaking ball for strike three.  The ball got away from catcher Jake Smith, allowing Newsome to reach first. 

However, that wasn't the only blemish on Ricky's near perfect performance.  Unfortunately for Ricky, one of the smallest crowds of the year showed up to witness his biggest day.  The picture of Ricky on says it all.  Official attendance was announced as 2,559, but we all know that season tickets sold are figured into that.  This was the smallest turnout of the weekend.  Announced attendance Saturday was 2,706 and 3,000 plus on Friday.  The small crowd also followed mid-week match-ups against non-conference, in state rivals that drew 3,800 on Tuesday night, and better than 4,200 on Wednesday.

I guess the small turnout was understandable.  An early morning game on a Sunday, the Pirates were taking on one of the worst teams in the conference, who also stole their fourth conference win of the year over the Pirates the day before.  It was cold, even raining before the game.  I'm not trying to criticize, but the Pirates deserve better.  The first nine-inning no-hitter in conference USA history, and maybe 500 people saw it. 

Just imagine if the Pirates could put 3,500 in the seats every time they went out. They would never lose to teams like Memphis at home.  Don't they deserve it?  The Pirates consistently put together a top-25 program, and they have a brand new state-of-the-art stadium.  This baseball program has given Pirates everywhere something to be proud of, and it's our job to show our support and let them know their efforts are appreciated.

Josh Spence