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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, March 8, 2010

By Brian Bailey

Lebo sees tourney up for grabs

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

History is often not kind when it comes to the Pirates in basketball. That will be the case again in El Paso this week. East Carolina has its highest seeding ever in a tournament for which it has never won a game.

The Pirates finished the year tied for 7th in the league standings. ECU is the 8th seed in the tournament and will face 9th seed Central Florida in that first game on Wednesday at 1 p.m. [View game-by-game pairings]

The Pirates swept the season series from the Knights, after UCF had been ranked nationally earlier in the year. ECU won by 12 in Orlando and by 7 in Greenville.

The last time the Pirates beat a team three times in the same season was in 1975, when East Carolina beat The Citadel three times.

“I like the matchup,” said first-year Pirate coach Jeff Lebo. “But from a psychological standpoint I think the team that gets beat twice has a little bit of an advantage in the situation. Our kids should be confident in this game.

"They’ve had some injuries and they are starting to get some guys back who weren’t 100 percent when we played them.”

East Carolina goes into the tournament with the momentum of wins in three of its last four games. The Pirates have also already clinched a winning season for the first time since the 1996-97 season.

“We did some neat things this season,” said Lebo. “Hopefully the season isn’t close to being over just yet.”

The ECU-UCF winner will play top seed UAB at 1 p.m. on Thursday. The Pirates lost both games to UAB this season, including the regular season finale in Birmingham on Saturday night.

“There are a number of teams that could win this thing,” added Lebo. “There are so many teams at the top where anything could have happened. You have to have some luck along the way. UTEP has an advantage with hosting the tournament, but sometimes that adds a little pressure. We have a lot of teams that have experienced guys.

"This isn’t the ‘Memphis Invitational' anymore. I think any one of eight teams can with this thing.”

Lebo includes his Pirates in that group.

Maness masterpiece nets award

East Carolna senior right-hander Seth Maness put together his best ever outing on Friday night, leading East Carolina to a 2-0 victory over Pepperdine [View Box Score].

Conference USA honored Maness as the league’s co-pitcher of the week.

The Pirates split Saturday’s doubleheader to win the series. [View game 1 box score; view game 2 box score]

The performance by Maness is exactly what any coach wants in his Friday night starter.

“From start to finish it was his deal,” said Pirate coach Billy Godwin. “It was his show. I’ve seen him be sharp and special but he was as sharp as I’ve seen him for sure.”

Maness tied his career high for strikeouts with 11 in the game. He gave up just two hits, with one of those coming in the ninth. At one point Maness retired 18 consecutive batters.

“I felt good,” said Maness. “I didn’t know about all nine (innings) but luckily it came out that way. I had command of my fastball and that’s always a plus.”

It was the fourth C-USA Pitcher of the Week honor for Maness in his career.

The Pirates hit the road tonight to take on Campbell again. Lefty Kevin Brandt will get the start for ECU. Righty Shawn Armstrong will start the Pirate’s other midweek game, as ECU hosts High Point on Wednesday.

This weekend is a big one of baseball at ECU, with the Pirates hosting the 8th Annual Keith LeClair Classic starting Friday.


E-mail Brian Bailey.

Brian Bailey Archives

04/01/2011 01:26 AM


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