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Gaspar, Pirates Stymie Tar Heels

By Denny O'Brien

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GREENVILLE -- Warren Gaspar's outfield wizardry provided most of the fireworks in East Carolina's win over North Carolina Wednesday night.  But it was his patience at the plate that sealed the victory.

Gaspar's two-out, bases loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth drove home Ben Sanderson to give No. 20 ECU a 2-1 non-conference victory over rival UNC in front of a record crowd of 3,890 at Harrington Field.  With the win, the Pirates improve to 27-9-1 on the season, while the Tar Heels fell to 25-14.

"I was just looking to put the ball in play," Gaspar said.  "I just wanted to get my pitch, and hopefully hit something and beat it out.  If we had won with a Darryl (Lawhorn) home run, or my walk, it didn't matter.  As long as at the end of the day we look up and we've won the game."

But for assistant coach Kevin McMullan, it was a fitting ending to a classic game.

"Warren really played his best defensive game of the year," McMullan said about his senior centerfielder.  "It's kind of rewarding that he was the last guy at the plate.  He's not having the kind of senior year that he would have liked, but he keeps coming to the park and competing for us every night.  It's a good thing for Warren.  He had a quality at-bat and gave us a chance to win the game."

The Pirates got solid performances on the mound, led by four innings of one-hit ball by starter Scott Greene. Greene combined with Glenn Tucker, Davey Penny, and Neal Sears on a four-hitter, and the Pirates didn't allow an extra-base hit on the evening.

Sears (5-0) pitched a perfect ninth to pick up the win.

"Scott (Greene) wasn't as sharp as he was last week, but he got us four good innings," McMullan said.  "Scott's a guy that knows how to pitch, and made pitches when he had to.  He gave our guys a chance to play defense."

And the Pirates were up to the challenge. Twice in the fourth, Gaspar robbed the Tar Heels of extra-base hits with his aerial acrobatics, first with a diving grab of a Russ Adams line drive, then with a leaping snag of a Chris Maples blast.

The Heels never seemed to recover offensively, even though they pushed across an unearned run in the seventh off a throwing error from second baseman Kevin O'Sullivan.

The Pirates out-hit the Heels 9-4, but left 14 on base.  ECU was paced  by Clayton McCullough (3-4) and Darryl Lawhorn (2-3), who extended his hitting streak to 14 games.  Jamie Paige added an RBI single in the third, giving the Pirates a 1-0 lead.

"I've said all along, we're going to have to pitch, play defense, and be opportunistic on offense," McMullan said.  "We were good enough tonight."

The Pirates return to action this Friday in the first of a three-game series with C-USA foe South Florida.  First pitch is scheduled for 7 PM.

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02/23/2007 02:05:55 AM

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