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Photos: ECU fans outlast lightning delay, cheer on Pirates baseball into the morning

 East Carolina fans cheer on the Pirates early Monday morning at Clark-LeClair Stadium in the NCAA Super Regional vs. Texas on June 13, 2022.
Mitchell Northam
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WUNC
East Carolina fans cheer on the Pirates early Monday morning at Clark-LeClair Stadium in the NCAA Super Regional vs. Texas on June 13, 2022.

The chants began in the second inning.

“Purple! … Gold!”
“Purple! … Gold!”
“Purple! … Gold!”

 ECU's Wyatt Lunsford-Shenkman warms up
Mitchell Northam
/
WUNC
ECU's Wyatt Lunsford-Shenkman warms up in the bullpen early Monday morning at Clark-LeClair Stadium in the NCAA Super Regional vs. Texas on June 13, 2022.
 An East Carolina fan cheers on the Pirates
Mitchell Northam
/
WUNC
An East Carolina fan cheers on the Pirates late Sunday night at Clark-LeClair Stadium in the NCAA Super Regional vs. Texas on June 12, 2022.
ECU baseball
Mitchell Northam
/
WUNC
ECU's CJ Mayhue and and Garrett Saylor chat before their Super Regional game against Texas on Sunday, June 12 in Greenville.

Booming cheers from fans of the East Carolina Pirates — who waited out weather delays that lasted more than a combined six hours — began out in left field, in a supporters’ section called “The Jungle” where the people who wore ECU’s colors were wild and loud. Then the more tame fans sitting along the first baseline joined in. Then the whole stadium screamed in unison.

As Sunday night turned to Monday morning, ECU trailed Texas by nine runs in the decisive Game 3 of the NCAA Tournament’s Super Regional. It was the bottom of the fifth inning around midnight, and still, the folks inside Clark-LeClair Stadium roared for their Pirates.

Even when winning seemed impossible, the people in Greenville never went quiet.

The announced sellout crowd of 5,787 fans and their voices were not enough though. East Carolina’s baseball season ended early Monday morning with an 11-1 loss to the Texas Longhorns. The Pirates — who won an NAIA national championship in 1961 — are still searching for their first-ever College World Series berth.

ECU was the last standing team from North Carolina in this college baseball season, as UNC lost on Sunday at home to Arkansas. And through the Pirates' last at-bat, when sophomore infielder Zach Agnos struck out with a mighty swing at 1:31 a.m., their fans stuck around, proud of what the team had accomplished.

While ECU lost in the Super Regional, the weekend seemed to be a celebration of the baseball culture created in Greenville. The Pirates won 46 games this season, the fifth-most in program history.

"Our culture is the reason we survived this year," said ECU head coach Cliff Godwin, whose team was 14-13 earlier this year before ripping off 20 straight wins. "It hurts... But we're going to keep knocking on the door until we knock it down."

The Pirates' final game of the season was its seventh straight that drew more than 5,000 fans. Before the pandemic, in the 2019 season, only six Division I college baseball teams in the nation averaged more than 5,000 fans per-game.

"The Super Regional crowd was unbelievable. Our fans, and I've said this before, but it was deafening," Godwin added. "I just thank Pirate Nation for everything they gave us... The people that stayed here — we're getting beat 11-1 and still getting 'purple and gold' chants.

"Not many places in the country can say that, so, really special."

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