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Greenville Regional Preview: East Carolina Pirates

The Pirates are the #1 seed in the Regional

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Florida vs LSU Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The East Carolina Pirates were seeded 12th overall for the 2018 NCAA Baseball Tournament and are the top seed in the Greenville Regional that they are hosting to open tournament play this weekend. The Pirates had a great season and enter the tournament with a 43-16 (14-10 AAC) record. They had a pair of wins over national seed UNC early in the season and won the American Athletic Conference Tournament title last weekend.

ECU has a solid offense, batting .287 as a team with a .379 OBP and .432 slugging percentage. Bryant Packard (.403/.460/.680) leads the Pirate offense and was the AAC Player of the Year. He also leads the team in home runs, with 14 this year. The only other ECU player with double-digit homers is Spencer Brickhouse (.304/.383/.515), who has 10 this season. The Pirates are aggressive on the bases, with 81 steals in 104 attempts this season.

East Carolina has been strong defensively this season and has a .978 fielding percentage. The Pirates have a team ERA of 3.28 with teams hitting .247 against them. One of the strongest parts of the pitching staff is junior RHP Chris Holba (2.45 ERA, 57 SO, 19 BB), who was a unanimous first-team All-AAC selection.

The Pirates have been a regular postseason team over the past couple of decades, playing in the tournament 15 of the last 20 seasons, so they are no strangers to the atmosphere of the NCAA Tournament. Though they missed out on the postseason last year, they advanced to a Super Regional in their last appearance in 2016 and they also advanced to a Super in 2009, the last time they hosted their own Regional.

As the top seed, the Pirates are obviously the favorites to advance out of the Greenville Regional and on to the Super Regional round. ECU has proven this year that they’re good enough to do that and they’re a strong team all the way around. But the pressure is on them as the host team to avoid stumbling against one of the other contenders this weekend and opening the door for another team to be the one to emerge from Greenville victorious.