College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Thursday, May 13, 2004
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News &
Fans active at ballpark and on
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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