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View from the East
Thursday, May 8, 2003

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Snakes bite foes for a change; Herrion wooing "Woo"

©2003 Bonesville.net

Although not as deep and talented as the last four East Carolina baseball teams which have earned NCAA Tournament berths, it’s too early to rule the Pirates out of the postseason.

Getting two out of three from league-leading Southern Miss last weekend and two out of three on the road at Louisville the preceding weekend has kept hopes alive for an at-large bid depending on how ECU closes out the regular season.

There’s also the possibility of the automatic berth that goes to the Conference USA Tournament champion in New Orleans on May 21-25, the route to the NCAAs the Pirates used at Grainger Stadium in Kinston last season.

“We’re really pressed to get in the NCAA Tournament,” said first-year Pirates head coach Randy Mazey. “But coming back against Southern Miss on Saturday definitely gave us some needed confidence for the upcoming games. To say the close games had been going the other way would be an understatement. It was like we were snakebit.”

The Pirates began turning their C-USA season around after getting swept at Texas Christian, part of a 6-game losing streak.

ECU (28-20-1, 14-10 C-USA) hosts UAB in games this weekend scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, 6 p.m. on Saturday and 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. ECU ends regular season play at Tulane on May 15-17.

The possibility of the return of Davey Penny to the weekend rotation from a line drive to the mouth that sidelined him several weeks ago could provide a boost for the Pirates.

“Davey is day to day,” Mazey said. “One day he feels O.K. and another day he doesn’t. He will continue to be evaluated on a daily basis.”

That the Pirates have been able to win the last two league series without their No. 1 starter is a sign of the determination of this year’s club.

“Injuries are part of the game,” Mazey said. “Even if we had stayed healthy, we may have been hurt because we don’t have the depth we need. That affects the midweek games because we don’t have a great deal of pitching depth.”

The incoming recruiting class is laden with pitchers and if the signees don’t get sidetracked by the pro draft, ECU will have the potential of eventually improving its mound depth despite the loss of several seniors this year.

“They’ll all be new,” Mazey said. “They don’t have Top 20 Division I type of experience so they’re going to have to grow up fast. It’s impossible to know how the draft will play out but one thing you have to do in this business is have a plan B.”

Mazey has shown some adaptability this season, juggling his lineup by putting Darryl Lawhorn at shortstop and Luke Cherry at second.

“It’s an offensive move more than anything,” Mazey said. “It gives us an opportunity to get Ben Sanderson in the lineup. That may sound a little strange since he’s only hitting .203 but he’s a team leader for us. He gives us energy and enthusiasm. If we kept Darryl in the outfield, we couldn’t play Ben.”

Sanderson was given the honor of wearing former coach Keith LeClair’s No. 23 prior to the season.

Mazey said the team had also experienced a momentum boost from rallying from a 5-0 deficit in the second game at Louisville for an 8-5 win after losing the opener to the Cardinals.

“We keep preaching, ‘Keep working hard, keep working hard and something good will happen,’ ” he said. “We needed something like that to happen.”

Polish 7-footer visits ECU

When was the last time East Carolina went head-to-head with Kentucky on a basketball recruit?

The up-and-coming Pirates and college basketball’s winningest program both have an interest in 7-foot-2, 240-pound Lukasz Obrzut (Woo-KOSH ORB-zuit), a native of Poland who originally committed to Fordham.

The big man goes by “Woo” for short.

When the Rams dismissed Bob Hill as coach, Obrzut changed his mind and visited ECU earlier this week. He had a subsequent visit scheduled to Kentucky. According to reports, Obrzut has shooting range to 18 feet, better than average ball handling skills and adequate defensive ability.

“He can really run as well as a small forward or two-guard,” Hill told the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader.

Hill, who formerly coached in the NBA, compared Obrzut to a combination of Dirk Nowitzki and Keith Van Horn. Obrzut averaged 12 points and eight rebounds for Bridgton (Maine) Academy last season.

Briefly

••• Quarterback Patrick Dosh, who originally committed to Virginia Tech but redshirted last year at Florida, is considering transferring to ECU, Georgia Tech or Hofstra. He would have three years of eligibility for the Pirates. One of his boyhood friends is Pirate defensive back Mickey McCoy, who moved from receiver in spring practice. Dosh, who has excellent mobility, could play immediately at Division I-AA Hofstra but would have to sit out a year at a I-A program.

••• Tabari “Snoop” Wallace, who played in the secondary for the Pirates from 1994 to 1997, is staying in the game as an assistant coach at New Bern High. He's still a 'Pirate' in more ways than one, giving it his all as an arena league player for the Peoria Pirates in the summer. He earned his master’s degree in rehabilitation from ECU in 2001.

••• Julien Dunkley is supposed to begin training under Trevor Graham in Raleigh today, according to ECU track coach Bill Carson, who said he advised Dunkley, a Jamaican who won the NCAA 60-meter indoor title in Fayetteville, Ark., in March, to obtain United States citizenship and turn pro. Graham formerly coached women’s sprinter and jumper Marion Jones. “He’s hot and he might as well go ahead and make the money,” Carson said. Dunkley was recently determined to be ineligible for the NCAA indoor meet and forfeited the 60-meter title. One source indicated Dunkley tested too high for levels of caffeine.

••• Chad Tracy, a former Mazey recruit when Mazey was an ECU assistant in 1998, is hitting .358 for Triple-A Tucson in the Arizona Diamondbacks system in just his second season in pro baseball. That’s the sixth highest average in the Pacific Coast League.

••• Columnist Bob Cook notes that a Missouri chat board originally broke the story on the behavior that led to Larry Eustachy's dismissal as basketball coach at Iowa State and that Alabama message boards were the first with the story that led to the firing of Tide football coach Mike Price. His point is that message boards can break news.

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02/23/2007 12:41:07 AM
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