East Carolina tried mightily to play its opening game at the NCAA regional baseball tournament in Greenville on Friday night.
But when rain came one more time at 10:30 p.m., the umpires finally decided to postpone the originally scheduled 7 p.m. game between the top-seeded Pirates and fourth-seeded Binghamton until today at 10 a.m.
“You’ve got to wait a little longer,” said East Carolina coach Billy Godwin. “We can’t control the weather. It is what it is, but we’ll come out tomorrow. 10 o’clock’s the time.”
Should the Pirates win the 10 a.m. game today, they would advance to play second-seeded South Carolina at 6 p.m. The Gamecocks topped third-seeded George Mason 11-3 on Friday in the first game of the four-team regional, a game that was delayed more than an hour in the middle of the seventh inning by rain.
Should the Pirates lose to Binghamton, they would face George Mason at 2 p.m. in an elimination game and Binghamton would face the Gamecocks at 6 p.m.
There’s now the potential for the winner of Saturday’s morning game to play four games over two days, something No. 2 seed South Carolina shouldn’t have to worry about having to do in this tournament since it got its game in Friday and prevailed 11-3 over George Mason.
Godwin said he wasn’t worried about what effect the delay would have on his starting pitcher, Chris Heston.
“We had Heston about half-way through his routine and as soon as it started raining we shut it down,” said Godwin. “He threw maybe 15 pitches tops. I don’t think it affects our pitching at all.”
Godwin looked back to the early part of the season, when lots of college baseball games in the Southeast were cancelled and postponed because of foul weather.
“We played UCLA at 9 in the morning and it was 38 degrees,” said Godwin. “We’ve had to do some different things this year. It’s prepared us. I told them when it happened, ‘This is something that could happen in the postseason.’”
The game was doomed from the start after a fast moving storm system stopped South Carolina’s game, and pushed back East Carolina’s start.
But heavy lightning moved through the area, and the NCAA’s rules require a 30-minute mandatory delay any time lightning strikes within an eight-mile radius of an outdoor event.
At one point, a radar display in the press box showed a 30-mile circle of lightning strikes moving through Greenville, part of a fast-moving line of storm cells that kept pounding Greenville.