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Better Know a Super Regional Opponent: The ECU Pirates

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Pirates vs. Commodores... a naval battle in landlocked Tennessee?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 22 UNC Charlotte at East Carolina Photo by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The School: East Carolina University.

Location: Greenville, NC.

The Mascot: Someone who robs from ships and/or illegally downloads movies. Poor hygiene. Smells of rum. Oft missing an eye and/or limb.

Record: 43-15; 20-8 in the American.

How’d they get here? #1 seed in the Greenville Regional (at large bid). They had a pretty easy regional for being the #13 team overall. They swept through Norfolk State 8-5, Charlotte 7-5, and Maryland 9-6. (Yawns.)

Best win: Their conference is terrible, so there’s really not a lot of quality wins on their resume. Best I see is taking 3 of 4 from Tulane in May, contributing to keeping Tulane out of the tourney.

Most embarrassing loss: Probably a 10-2 mid-week beatdown at the hands of UNC Wilmington. They also got run ruled by Memphis 11-1 in the first game of their conference tourney. Yikes.

Most terrifying batter: #1 So. 2B Connor “Norbit” Norby (.418/.487/.669). If there’s anyone to pitch around, especially with a RISP and 1st base open, it’s the man with 15 2B, 15 HR, and 51 RBI. Of course, he’s also their leadoff hitter and has 18-21 stolen bases this year. In other words, challenge him with no one on, but paint when he’s up with RISP. He’s leading the team in every category mentioned in this paragraph.

Most terrifying pitcher: You’re likely expecting this to be a mid-major soft-tosser, but no, ECU has one of the few pitchers outside of the SEC who could give Kumar Rocker or Jack Leiter a run for their money in a head to head matchup.

#26 Jr. RHP Gavin “Sideshow Gavin” Williams (10-0 1.82 ERA) is a massive power pitcher who can amp it up to the high 90s. He’s a 4 pitch pitcher (fastball, curve, slider, change), but relies mostly on the heater and spike curve.

Tim Corbin on Williams (from Robbie Weinstein’s 247 article):

“(He’s) 6-foot-6, 235 pounds, looks like Paul Bunyan and throws the ball 97 miles an hour and doesn’t back off,” Corbin said. “He holds his velocity. We haven’t seen a lot of pitchers that hold their velocity that long, and this is a kid — he’s a freak. He’s very, very good at what he does. He doesn’t give up extra-base hits. He throws a lot of strikes. He can command several pitches beyond a fastball, and he competes.”

The 6’6” 240lb flamethrower from Cape Fear HS is doing a terrible job maintaining the anonymity needed for his Witness Relocation Program identity, as he’s the #42 ranked player on MLB.com’s top 100 draft prospects list, and, as such, is likely to be chosen in the first two rounds of the upcoming MLB Draft.

Of course, he’s not faced a lineup like ours this season. Here’s a live look-in at Williams getting off the team bus in Nashville (please and thank you):

Best NCAA Tournament result: This is the 6th time ECU has won their Regional (all 6 since 2001). They have never advanced to Omaha.

Should Vanderbilt Be Scared? We should respect them—especially their Ace Gavin Williams, and their offense is pretty potent—but no, we should not be scared.