Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather

ECU News, Notes and Commentary

The Bradsher Beat
Thursday, June 2, 2005

By Bethany Bradsher

Spirited road warriors take Tempe in stride


Contained in the room under the grandstands at Clark LeClair Stadium Monday were all of the elements of great drama: dozens of anxious Pirates, a large screen television and a boatload of uncertainty.

Seniors like Brian Cavanaugh, who sat on the floor in front of his teammates, didn’t even dare to guess whether they had played their last college baseball game.

Not that Cavanaugh didn’t look for clues.

As the ESPN NCAA baseball selection show got underway, he mentally checked off the regions that seemed the most likely hosts for East Carolina. The Clemson region popped up on the screen, and was filled with four other teams. Likewise, Georgia Tech and Tennessee were soon eliminated as Pirate destinations.

Then Cavanaugh glanced back and saw Coach Randy Mazey. He was wearing his poker face. And the ESPN announcers had revealed three-fourths of the 16 regions.

Still, Cavanaugh stayed glued to the screen.

“I ain’t going to lie, I was scared,” said Cavanaugh, who is leading Conference USA in batting with a .379 average. “I was real scared. I saw Georgia Tech pass by us, I saw Clemson pass by — I was like, man. I saw Coach Mazey walk in and he didn’t look too happy. I thought maybe he knew something we didn’t.”

But as it turned out, Mazey knew exactly as little as his players, and with the introduction of the Tempe region they all got their wish — an extension of the season that has been marked with dogged perseverance in the midst of disappointment.

“As soon as I heard East Carolina, I didn’t even wait for them to show it on the board,” Cavanaugh said. “As soon as I heard it, I was so jacked. I was just yelling. I was shaking watching that thing. I’m so eager to get out there. I’m ready to go right now.”

The media were invited to a similar gathering last May, but there was minimal suspense. With a 51-13 record, the 2004 squad was assured of an NCAA bid. The party to watch the selection show was just that — a celebration.

Somehow, Mazey mused Monday — after the TV was turned off and the players had dispersed to pack for an impromptu West Coast trip — the announcement came the only way it could have for this group that is accustomed to earning every victory the hard way.

“The way this season’s gone, that was just perfect, the way the show went,” he said. “It gave us just a little bit more adversity to go through.”

Less than 24 hours after that Memorial Day lunch gathering, the Pirates left Greenville for points West, arriving in Tempe before any other team but the host Sun Devils. They went out to eat and shopped Tuesday night and practiced for two hours Wednesday morning, said Rob Dunning of ECU sports information.

The team arrived in Arizona in plenty of time to get acclimated to the dry heat and the three-hour time difference. But Mazey and the players expressed no reservations about the effects of traveling 2,300 miles to play in the regional, which will pit them against Arizona State Friday night and potentially Coastal Carolina and UNLV later in the weekend.

The ECU-ASU game will be broadcast locally on 1070 AM and 1250 AM at 10 p.m. Eastern time.

By capturing the regional, ECU officials confirmed Wednesday, the Pirates would satisfy part of the equation for having a chance to play the next round before a home crowd. If ECU wins in Tempe and defending national champion Cal State Fullerton loses in its regional, ECU is expected to be chosen as host for the Super Regional, sports information director Tom McClellan said.

Arizona State, which defeated ECU 10-3 in March at the Keith LeClair Classic, is 34-22 overall and 15-9 in the PAC-10. The Sun Devils come to the regional after having won four straight games, including a three-game sweep of Washington State.

Among the advantages of playing in Conference USA, Mazey said, are the frequency and distances involved in the Pirates' travel schedule. In contrast, a team like top-seeded Coastal Carolina has competed much closer to home, he said.

“It seems like we’re always in the air or on the bus, so it’s just another weekend for us,” Mazey said.

Junior third baseman Mark Minicozzi echoed Mazey’s relaxed attitude toward cross-country travel. As ECU prepares for its seventh NCAA Regional in as many years, this is a team that is not intimidated by higher-ranked opponents or distant venues.

“Last year we made the trip to Tempe, and it was one of the best trips we’ve ever made,” Minicozzi said. “Everyone’s excited — it doesn’t matter where. We could have gone to China and we’d be happy to go.”

Send an e-mail message to Bethany Bradsher.

Click here to dig into Bethany Bradsher's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 01:11:24 AM

©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.