Senior Sam King completes in the Farmer's Walk during the 2012 Fire of Blackbeard Challenge.
Dec. 7, 2012
GREENVILLE, N.C. - The East Carolina baseball team completed its Annual Fire of Blackbeard Challenge last week as the 2012 fall practice came to an end with Chris Gosik, Stephen Hales, Jeff Hoffman, Zach Houchins, Jack Reinheimer, Andy Smithmyer, Justin Taylor and Travis Watkins guiding Team White to the Eighth Annual Title. For Reinheimer (2011) and Smithmyer (2011) it is the second time they have been on the winning team, while former Pirate and current San Francisco Giants prospect Devin Harris (2007-09) is the only three-time winner.
Head Coach Billy Godwin and his staff broke the squad into five groups and put them through a series of challenges that tested endurance, strength and teamwork.
"We closed out the another fall with an exciting event," said Godwin. "The Fire of Blackbeard Challenge teaches our players about teamwork and overcoming obstacles to reach our goals. This event is about individual improvement through our speed and strength training and I was very impressed with where we are as a team. Coach Blain Kinsley (strength and conditioning) and Zac Womack (athletic trainer) have done a great job of putting our players in a position to succeed during this event and on the baseball diamond."
The first day of competition Pirates headed inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for the stadium run where freshman Andrew Schorr narrowly defeated fellow classmate Nick Durazo and sophomore Jeff Hoffman.
After their Thanksgiving break, the team resumed the annual challenge competing in the pro agility (Andy Smithmyer), broad jump (DeShorn Lake), 60-yard dash (Reinheimer) and 300-yard shuttle (Hoffman).
On day three, the teams hit the weight room participating in the back squat (Luke Lowery), chin-ups (Durazo) and dumb bell bench press (Lowery). The weight room completion continued on day four with the power clean for positional players, where Chase McDonald set a new program record. The pitchers participated in the shot put with Hoffman taking home top honors.
Final day of competition saw the five teams participate in a three-mile run, in which Durazo outlasted Joseph Hughes by 43 seconds.
Then each team participated in the crucible competing in a series of challenges such as the coffins (running in sandpit carrying boxed weights), prowler push (pushing weights on sled), plate push, farmer's walk (carrying plates in each hand), over-head bar run, wood sled push, duck walk and a 30-yard barrel roll. Each event was timed and assigned a point value to help determine the overall team champion.
At the teams end of the semester banquet, which was held at the City Hotel and Bistro, Kinsley announced that Team White won the annual title.
Former Pirate head coach and ECU Hall of Famer Hal Baird served as the as the guest speaker during the banquet. Baird, a two-year letterwinner on the mound, led ECU to the Southern Conference title and a NCAA Tournament appearance (Gastonia, N.C.) in 1970. During the league championship game against George Washington, Baird struck out a Southern Conference and school-record 20 batters - a record that still stands today.
Following a six-year career in the pros, where he compiled a 25-16 overall record playing in the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals organizations, Baird returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach under Monte Little from 1977-79 helping the Pirates claim the Southern Conference crown in 1977.
In 1980 he became the 11th Pirate skipper guiding ECU to a pair of ECAC-South Championships and three NCAA Tournament appearances (1980/Orono, Maine; 1982/Columbia, S.C.; 1984/Tallahassee, Fla.) before accepting the head coaching position at Auburn University. During his five-year career, Baird posted a 145-66-1 overall record, which ranks sixth all-time at ECU.
The Pirates will open the 2013 season at home when they play host to Virginia on Friday, Feb. 15 with a first pitch scheduled for 3 p.m. (EST).