marks the beginning of the 2006 C-USA tournament. East Carolina
opens the tournament, literally, versus Tulane early Wednesday morning
at 10 a.m. (EDT). The Pirates are the 6th seed after a 32-24,
10-14 regular season finish, and will take on Tulane the 3rd seed for
the fourth time this season.
Tulane won the regular season series over ECU with the Green Wave
taking two out of three in Greenville, but the series could have had a
much different outcome. The Pirates won Brody Taylor’s start 13-3
in game 2 of the series in what was probably the team’s best all around
effort of the season. ECU had a good chance to win game 1 against
Tulane ace Sean Morgan, but gave up 5 runs in the ninth to lose
9-5. Now Taylor and Morgan will go head-to-head as the two aces
face off in game one of the C-USA tournament.
After losing the last four regular season games of the year ECU must
win the C-USA tournament to advance to the team’s eighth consecutive
NCAA regional. The Pirates only previous C-USA tournament
championship came in 2002 when the Pirates owned the 6th seed. A
big difference however is that the Pirates hosted that tourney in
Kinston. Now the Pirates have to get it done on the road, as Rice
hosts this tournament in Houston.
Here’s a look at the rest of the tourney field. Rice owns the
number 1 seed losing only two conference games all year. Houston
finished 2nd, and Tulane 3rd. Fourth is Memphis, 5th goes to
Southern Miss, the Pirates 6th, Marshall 7th and UAB 8th. In the
tournament the 1 takes on the 8 in the first round with 2 meeting 7 and
so forth, all competing in double elimination format. For a
complete look at the brackets click HERE.
So Morgan for Tulane and Taylor for the Pirates, with both teams
needing a win in game one they throw the pitcher that gives them the
best chance. For other teams however this is where tournament
strategy comes in to play. Throwing your ace in the first game
does a couple of things. You give yourself your best chance in
game 1, and then open up the possibility that your ace could come back
and pitch again should you reach the finals on Sunday. According
to team sources Taylor has the quickest turnaround of any Pirate
For ECU there really is no other option. The Pirates will need
Taylor to win and then have other pitchers (including the bullpen) to
step up. However teams like Houston and Rice have other
options. Rice will take on UAB in the first round, the question
being: Will they put stud Eddie Deggerman on the hill, knowing that the
winner of the USM Memphis game awaits them in round two? How
about Houston? Will they start Brad Lincoln in game 1 knowing
that the ECU-Tulane winner awaits them in game 2? Likely the
answer is yes to both questions, because again, that gives your stud
pitcher a chance to come back and pitch in the Championship game.
Either way, it shows how strategy plays into the tourney even before
the games begin.
The regular season didn’t end the way the Pirates would have liked as
ECU lost its last four. However, the 6th seed could be a blessing
in the skies. The Pirates play Tulane and starter Sean Morgan in
game1, and again ECU almost beat Morgan earlier this year. With
Taylor on the mound the Pirates will be that much more confident. A win
in game one and ECU takes on the Houston-Marshall winner, likely
Houston, which will likely throw Lincoln against the Thundering
Herd. A win in that game propels ECU to a match-up with a team
out of the loser’s bracket, before ever meeting a team from the
opposite bracket which contains USM, Memphis, UAB and host team Rice.
We’ll see how it all shakes out as the Pirates take on Tulane in game
one on Wednesday morning.