College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Thursday, April 17, 2003
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News &
Advantage Heels while ace
hurlers stay on ice
One sort of peculiar aspect of college baseball is that even
though you may play a big rival midweek, the best starters are saved for
conference play on the weekend. So it was at East Carolina’s Harrington
Field on Wednesday night.
Capacity is listed at 2,500. Attendance for the matchup
pitting ECU against visiting ACC neighbor North Carolina was 3,058
— the biggest crowd of the season for the Pirates.
ECU went to junior left-hander Ashley Capps and the tone was set early as
UNC shortstop Chad Prosser, the second batter to face Capps, had a home run
for a 1-0 Tar Heels lead.
Capps settled down until the fourth when he served up a home run off the
scoreboard by Jeremy Cleveland to lead off the inning. Sean Farrell and
Sammy Hewitt followed with hits for the Heels and that was the end of the
night for Capps.
Neal Sears came in and got the count to 0-2 on Tar Heels catcher Chris
Iannetta, who was supposed to be bunting on 0-1 with runners at first and
second. He got to swing away after a called second strike.
“With one strike, he (UNC coach Mike Fox) wanted me to get a bunt down,”
Iannetta said. “It was a slider. I thought it was way off the plate. The
umpire had been variable on the outside corner all day and he called it a
strike right there.
“So I just kind of battled. I felt like he couldn’t overpower me with a fast
ball. I fought off some sliders and he finally hung one over the plate.”
That one landed in “The Jungle.” It stayed there briefly before it was
thrown back onto the field. But the damage had been done. That swing gave
the Tar Heels a 5-0 lead, which they expanded to 8-0 before ECU provided
some late excitement and cut the final margin to 8-4 with the help of two
solo homers by Jake Smith, who came off the bench for two productive
Carolina started freshman right-hander Matt Danford, who pitched five
scoreless innings with ample support.
“A freshman — a tough environment — he pitched well,” Fox said.
Pirates coach Randy Mazey felt his pitchers didn’t rise to
the occasion. ECU scored four runs and its team earned run average going
into the game was 3.03.
“Four runs on eight hits — that’s a better offensive output than we usually
have,” Mazey said. “We’ve just been winning those games. ... I don’t think
it was an offensive thing so much as it was a pitching thing
tonight. When you pitch against a team that’s better than you, you’ve got to
pitch over your head. You’ve got to be better than you normally are and we
weren’t that tonight.”
The good news is that the Pirates have their top arms available for a
weekend series at Texas Christian. The Pirates and the Horned Frogs are each 10-5 in
Conference USA, one game behind Southern Miss, which is 11-4.
“We’re only one game out of first place in the conference but we’re two
games out of seventh place,” said the first-year Pirates coach. “So we have
to play good this weekend to stay in the race.”
Davey Penny (4-2, 1.92 ERA) is expected to start on Friday at 7 p.m. at TCU.
Will Brinson (3-1, 4.38) will get the nod on Saturday at 7 p.m..
Mazey said freshman Jason Neitz (1-1, 2.66) could start the
2 p.m. game on Sunday.
“We haven’t really talked about that yet but he’s probably the leading
candidate,” Mazey said.
Darryl Lawhorn returned to action against the Tar Heels after missing a 6-3
win at Campbell on Tuesday night.
Mazey said John Poppert started at catcher against UNC because of his
defensive ability and the Tar Heels’ ability to run. But Smith averted a
shutout in the seventh with a solo shot to straight-away center in a pinch
“That’s his seventh home run now in limited at-bats (68),” Mazey said. “He’s
done some good things offensively. Poppert’s the defensive guy and Jake’s
the offensive guy. Carolina runs a lot so we went with Poppert to slow down
their running game a little bit. Jake’s a quality guy. We got a lot of
energy from guys off the bench.
“Five of our hits came off the bench. That’s how you get off the bench. You
get an opportunity like that and you do well and earn your playing time that
way. Those guys gave us a lot tonight.”
Coach Earl Smith
Earl Smith is a former baseball coach at Campbell and East Carolina and
placidly watched the two programs play on Tuesday night at Taylor Field in
Buies Creek from a lawn chair near the first base dugout.
“This is only the second game I’ve been to in the last two years,” said
Smith, who will be inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame
later this year. “My neighbor from Fayetteville brought me up here.”
Smith and his neighbor left after eight innings.
“Somebody asked me who I was pulling for, Campbell or East Carolina,” Smith
said. “I told ’em I was pulling for both of ’em.”
The score was tied 3-3 when the venerable coach left. The Pirates scored
three times in the ninth for a 6-3 win as ECU closer Greg Bunn struck out
three in the ninth although the Camels managed two base runners.
Former ECU player Dwayne Ledford, who made the transition from the defensive
front to the offensive line during his Pirates career, is playing for the
Rhein Fire in NFL Europe. ... The Liberty Bowl matching
the Conference USA champion against the Mountain West champion is at 3:30
p.m. on Dec. 31. Call (901) 795-7700 for tickets. ... Woody Schmidt, who
averaged 47.5 yards per punt in the Purple-Gold game, is a transfer from
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02/22/2007 11:53:43 PM