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

Super Regionals Regionals ECU 2004 Review 2003 Review 2002 Review 2001 Review

Wrong turn in Columbia ends journey to Omaha

By Denny O'Brien


Catch Denny's digitally recorded Bonesville Bytes: Mazey, Lawhorn & Tanner post-game remarks...

SUPER REGIONALS: Scoreboard & Schedule • Team Sketches RECAPS: Sunday • Saturday • Friday
Monday Wrap-up • Sunday Recaps • Saturday Recaps •
Friday Recaps

COLUMBIA, SC — Just when it looked like East Carolina would force a deciding third game against South Carolina, Pirates coach Randy Mazey made one of the more curious moves of the 2004 NCAA baseball Super Regionals.

With the Pirates ahead 3-2 and reliever Kevin Rhodes looking sharp, Mazey pulled the sophomore right hander in favor of seldom used Trevor Lawhorn with one on and one out in the eighth. It was only the second appearance by Lawhorn this season and it occurred at the most critical point in the season.

Ultimately it was a decision that backfired, as the Gamecocks rallied for three runs and punched their ticket for the College World Series with a 5-3 victory.

"We got in a situation there where (Lawhorn) had thrown only one inning this year," said an emotional Mazey after the game. "That was an awfully impressive inning and he's been throwing intrasquads.

"As good an athlete as he is, I knew he could come in and close the door when they started that threat. He came in and got a strikeout and a ground ball, which is exactly what we wanted. The ground ball was just hit in a real bad spot for us."

After Lawhorn struck out left fielder Michael Campbell, pinch hitter Ryan Mahoney laced a ground ball just past Pirates first baseman Ryan Norwood. Brendan Winn scored from second to even the score at three, but the Gamecocks (50-15) weren't finished.

Lawhorn then issued a walk to centerfielder Davy Gregg, and Steven Tolleson delivered a base-clearing double that put the Gamecocks ahead for good. Pirates reliever Mike Flye came in to record the final out of the inning, but the damage was already done.

"It was just a fastball outside," Lawhorn said of the pitch to Tolleson. "I asked my catcher if it was the right spot. He said, 'yeah, he just went out there and got it.' "

Reliever Zac McCamie picked up the win for South Carolina and improved to 7-0. Chad Blackwell pitched the final two innings to earn his 19th save.

Lawhorn (0-1) took the loss.

Despite the outcome, Mazey said he wasn't going to second-guess the move.

"As a coach, you already second guess yourself no matter what you do," he said. "I'm not going to in this situation because I have faith in (Lawhorn). I have faith in every guy on our team. It just didn't work out.

"If we run the squeeze there when the score was 2-2 and it doesn't work, you second guess that. Sometimes you do things that work, sometimes you do things that don't. He came in and got a big strikeout and a ground ball, which is what we knew he could do."

East Carolina (51-13) took its first lead of the series in the bottom of the sixth when catcher John Poppert squeezed home Lawhorn to give the Pirates a 3-2 advantage. Earlier that inning the Pirates tied it on a bases loaded ground ball by Mike Grace that plated Drew Costanzo, who led off the stanza with a double.

The Pirates could have gotten more, but Mark Minicozzi didn't break immediately on Jamie Paige's two-out single and had to stop at third.

"We battled them good," Mazey said. "In the middle of the game there, I really had a good feeling — the whole dugout did — that we were going to win the game."

The feeling in the first few innings was that East Carolina dodged a major bullet.

Pirates starter Brody Taylor surrendered a quick run and lasted only five batters before being pulled for Scott Andrews. Andrews was able to get out of the first inning without suffering more damage, but the Gamecocks eventually got to him, too.

But Rhodes, who pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up only one run, took the ball with two outs in the second and proved a calming force. The Pirates trailed 2-0 at that point, but the deficit could have been worse.

"We're down 2-0 there, but if you're in their dugout, you're thinking gosh, we've only scored two runs," Mazey said. "You don't like that feeling to be up by only two when you have so many chances.

"In our dugout, that kind of gives you life. We've run through the raindrops for three or four innings and still were only two runs down. You're behind in the game, but you're glad you're only down by two. I think that's what drove us to take the lead."

USC third baseman Bryan Triplett got things started in the first with a sharply hit single up the middle. He scored moments later on a double by first baseman Steve Pearce.

An inning later, Triplett returned the favor by delivering a single that plated designated hitter Hank Parks, giving USC a 2-0 lead. The Pirates were unable to answer, despite putting runners in scoring position in both the second and fourth.

ECU inched closer in the fifth with a run to slice the Gamecocks' lead in half.

Minicozzi led off the inning with a solid single to left and advanced to second on a ground ball by Poppert. After Paige grounded out to short, Billy Richardson reached on a throwing error by Tolleson that plated Minicozzi.

The Pirates flirted with a big inning after Jones walked, but starter Aaron Rawl got Norwood to ground out to kill the rally.

"There's a lot to be said for experience," Mazey said. "They've been in these Super Regionals before, they've hosted them before, so they know how to win them.

"This experience is really going to help us in the future when we get in our next Super Regional. We can always reflect back and see what we've got to do to win the next one."

Copyright 2004 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

02/23/2007 10:39:05 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.