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Pirates catch fire late and sizzle past Devils

By Denny O'Brien

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DURHAM — It took a while for East Carolina's bats to heat up Tuesday night, but they eventually got cooking.

ECU's Jason Mandryk gets set to deliver at Jack Coombs Field in Durham Tuesday night. Mandryk (5-1) picked up the win over Duke after scattering 8 hits and one run in five innings. Neal Sears, Kieran Mattison and Jason Tourangeau combined for four innings of one-hit shutout relief as the Pirates bashed the Blue Devils 8-1.
Photos by Denny O'Brien

Trailing Duke 1-0 entering the fifth inning, the Pirates went on a scoring barrage, plating one in the fifth, two in the sixth and seventh, and three more in the eighth to snare what turned out to be a routine 8-1 non-conference victory.  With the win, the Pirates improved their record to 30-10-1 overall, while Duke fell to 19-23.

Neal Sears pitched 2 1/3 perfect innings in relief of starter Jason Mandryk (5-1) to help seal Mandryk's 5th win of the season. Justin Dilucchio (4-3) took the loss for the Devils.

"It was good to pick up number 30," assistant coach Kevin McMullan said.  "Obviously, this is a good mid-week win against a good Duke team."

"We started off slow, but finished up strong.  That's always a positive sign.  Jason Mandryk coming back was obviously good for the Pirates.  He pitched well through about 5 1/2 innings, then Neal Sears came in and put out the fire in a tough situation just as he's done all season.  Overall, it was a pretty good night for the Pirates."

Mandryk, who was making his first appearance since his April 7 start against Houston, pitched five innings, allowing just one run, while scattering eight hits, striking out three, and walking two.  

The Pirates banged out 12 hits on the evening, paced by shortstop Luke Cherry's 3-4 performance.  Bryant Ward and Darryl Lawhorn pitched in with two hits apiece, while Jedd Sorenson added a bases-loaded single to break the game open in the eighth.

"I think we've been opportunistic at the right times," McMullan said.  "It seems that when we bunt, and start moving runners around a little bit, it seems like our guys get a little bit more aware of what's going on."

East Carolina travels to Memphis Friday for the first of a three-game Conference USA series with the Tigers.  Game one is set to start at 8 PM EST.

"There are no off weekends in our conference," McMullan said.  "We're looking forward to the challenge.  Anytime you go on the road in this conference, you expect their best."

There will be little rest for the road-weary when the Pirates return Sunday from the City of Elvis. ECU will hop on a bus Tuesday and head to Chapel Hill for a rematch against the same North Carolina team it defeated last Wednesday in Greenville.

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02/23/2007 02:05:55 AM

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