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College Sports in the Carolinas

View from the East
Thursday, May 13, 2004

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Fans active at ballpark and on banquet trail

©2004 Bonesville.net

The East Carolina baseball team should win Conference USA and could make it to Omaha this year for the College World Series. The Pirates, ranked No. 5 nationally by Collegiate Baseball, are 43-7 and have won 24 of their last 25 games.

Regardless of what happens from here on out, Pirate fans can rest assured that they have in-state bragging rights for the foreseeable future after beating UNC-Wilmington 3-0 in the Port City on Tuesday night and downing N.C. State 7-2 on Wednesday night in Kinston.

“This was for our fans,” said third baseman Mark Minicozzi after hitting a 2-run homer in the win over the Wolfpack.

Grainger Stadium in Kinston has become ECU’s home away from home with the construction process underway on a new stadium on campus. The Pirates are taking fans wherever they go — 3,257 at Wilmington on Tuesday and a season high 3,510 in Kinston on Wednesday.

ECU fans took over the parking lot with every available space utilized in Kinston. There was some serious tailgating going on in the late afternoon and the turnout had its effect on the field later on.

“Our players respond to our fan support,” said ECU coach Randy Mazey.

Jamie Paige and Darryl Lawhorn had two hits each for the Pirates. Midweek pitchers allowed just two runs in 17 innings against the Seahawks and Pack.

Raz the auctioneer

Michael Ward, who took Mick Crawford’s place as a field representative for the Pirate Club, was doing his best to conduct an auction of East Carolina memorabilia at the Harnett/Johnston and Cumberland/Hoke chapters banquet at the Brass Lantern in Dunn on Monday night.

Raz Autry, a guard for the Pirates in football in the late 1940s, was in attendance and reacted to Ward’s novice style.

Ward asked him if he wanted to bid on an item.

Autry said, “No, but I’d like to give you some auctioneering lessons.”

So Autry came to the front of the room and quickly doubled the bid on the item of the moment. Obviously, Autry has some experience in the field as he worked the room for various balls and an ECU football helmet. A baseball signed by the Pirates went for $160 and then Pirates baseball coach Randy Mazey was introduced by Pirate Club executive director Dennis Young.

Mazey said that at the Pitt County Pirate Club meeting at the Murphy Center, baseball uniforms belonging to twins Trevor and Darryl Lawhorn had prompted a bidding battle between a party at the banquet and another interest from Florida that was on the phone with Pirate Club assistant director Matt “Big Guy” Maloney. The jerseys ended up fetching $5,500 with each bidder getting a set.

Mazey produced another ball at Monday’s meeting and asked the runner-up bidder if he would pay $150 for it. He then offered Dennis Strickland, who had won the auction at $160, a reduction to $150 for the price of his ball. Both bidders agreed.

“I’m a pretty good auctioneer myself,” Mazey told Autry. “Baseball coaches know we may be just a bad weekend series away from being in the auctioneer business.”

Under the active leadership of Perry Hudson, Young said the Harnett/Johnston chapter had become the fifth largest in the Pirate Club.

Mazey shared some jokes but was serious about the prospect of going to Omaha, Neb., for the College World Series. Mazey has been twice — with Clemson as an assistant coach in 1991 and as an assistant at Tennessee in 2001. Pirates hitting coach Allen Osborne went to Omaha as an assistant at Georgia in 2001.

“Oz and I talk with the team every day about what it’s like in Omaha,” Mazey said. “We talk about the restaurants and the atmosphere and what it’s like to be there.”

Football coach John Thompson didn’t tell jokes.

“It’s pretty hard to follow a rock star like Randy Mazey, who is (then) 41-7,” Thompson said.

But Thompson indicated his commitment to getting a program that was 1-11 in 2003 turned around. The hiring of offensive coordinator Noah Brindise was a big step, he said.

Thompson said he appreciated the support of fans through tough times.

“You stick with us, you’re making a difference and we’re going to get there,” he said.

Young said that due to rising construction costs, the Pirate Club had been asked to raise an additional $1 million for the new baseball stadium. As of Monday night, $763,000 remained on that new goal.

Basketball prospects

The repeal of some scholarship restrictions by the NCAA means East Carolina is still recruiting. Among those who will be making visits in the coming days are 6-foot-2 combination guard Marvin Kilgore of Philadelphia Lutheran, the program that produced 6-10 Pirate signee Charles Bronson; 6-3 wing player Tom Hammonds, the son of former Georgia Tech star Tom Hammonds; and 6-9 Ibrahim Koyate, a native of Africa who played last season at Worcester (Mass.) Academy.

Kilgore has visited Creighton and Miami (Fla). Hammonds is from Florida but played last season for well-regarded prep coach Stu Vetter at Montrose Christian in Rockville, Md.

Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.

Click here to dig into Al Myatt's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 12:45:40 AM
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