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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Wednesday, March 3, 2004
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

Weekend to remember stirs 'Jungle'


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Pirate Coach Randy Mazey admitted late Sunday that two wins during the Keith LeClair Invitational would have been great. Three wins would have been better.

Not that Mazey or anyone in this East Carolina baseball program wasnít thinking positive. Still, a four game sweep with two wins over 11th ranked Clemson actually looked to good to be true.

The Pirates came through with the play of a champion.

Saturday nightís game will go down as one of the most exciting in the schoolís dynamic baseball history.

East Carolina and Clemson were tied 2-2 in the bottom of the 11th inning when pinch hitter Drew Costanzo came to the plate. Costanzo wasnít off to the best of starts, so you had to know that he was long overdue.

Costanzoís home run ended the thriller. Harrington Field was absolutely jumping as Costanzo rounded the bases. The jungle was four or five deep in places, and the celebration was exhilarating.

As Iíve said many times, itís a privilege to cover sports at East Carolina. I arrived at the game in the 8th inning, after covering a sectional playoff game at J.H. Rose High School.

Ironically, it was a former Rampant star that proved to be one of the heroes in Saturday nightís win.

Freshman Michael Flye led Rose to a state championship in his senior season. This year, heís off to an amazing start for the Pirates. Against the 11th ranked team in the nation, Flye pitched 5 and 2/3 scoreless innings. He struck out nine Tigers, while keeping the Pirates even until the dramatic home run.

Back to the eleventh inning, where I was standing right next to the Clemson dugout for the thrilling end.

The Tigers had a certain swagger about them during the game. It wasnít necessarily a cocky strut, rather a look of invincibility against East Carolina.

This was a very emotional game. By the time I got to the park in the 8th, you could tell that the Tigers were emotionally into the game, more so then most teams in the visitorís dugout.

It became a chess match of sorts. The Pirates botched a suicide squeeze play. Clemson left a runner or two stranded. In the end, it came down to one powerful punch to the opposite field by Drew Costanzo.

I was working the camera because my assistant, Dan Eberhard, had to get back to prepare for the nightís sportscast.

Right when Costanzo hit it, I knew it had a chance. From the reaction of the jungle, though, I knew it was going to be close.

The Clemson outfielder leaped, but came up empty. The jungle erupted. Costanzo circled the bases, and I had a front row seat with my camera for the celebration.

The Pirate players celebrated for a minute or so, and then decided to head out to thank the jungle for their part in the victory. With camera in hand, I sprinted to the centerfield wall to get a shot of the celebration.

I know that Iím getting too old for this. My son joked that I was still out of breath two hours later!

If ever a team was primed for a letdown, it was East Carolina for Sundayís game against Clemson.

Again, East Carolina kept the pressure on. Darryl Lawhorn, who had struggled out of the gate, hit one of the longest home runs that Iíve ever seen at Harrington Field. The ball literally hit the light. Again, it didnít hit the light post, it hit the light. I think that ball would have gone through the goal posts at the practice field, if it hadnít connected with the light.

The Pirates won that game 6-4 and the beat Georgia Southern for a second time to run the table in the event.

East Carolina played the Keith LeClair Invitational just like the former coach would have wanted. The Pirates hustled, scrapped, and battled against a team perceived to be a little bit better.

The Pirates play was a fitting tribute to the former coach.

It was truly a weekend to remember!

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02/23/2007 01:29:02 AM

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