LINKS FOR MORE PIRATE BASEBALL RESOURCES
Wrong turn in Columbia ends journey to Omaha
By Denny O'Brien
VIEW SUNDAY'S EAST CAROLINA-SOUTH CAROLINA BOX SCORE
Scoreboard & Schedule
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
"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
"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
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."
Bonesville.net. All rights reserved. This material may not be
published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
02/23/2007 10:39:05 AM