Pirates fall to 49ers
JOHN SWARTZ, Sports Correspondent
GREENVILLE -- East Carolina's Ryan Norwood cleared the left field wall for the second time in as many games, but it wasn't enough to thwart the offense of the Charlotte 49ers.
The 5-2 loss dropped the Pirates to 14-7-1 overall, and 2-2 in Conference USA play. Charlotte improved to 7-9 overall and 1-2 in conference play.
Pirate pitcher Neal Sears didn't allow a hit until the third inning, but the Pirates couldn't take advantage of the Charlotte hitting lull with any runs of their own.
In the first, Jamie Paige reached base courtesy of a Zachary Treadway bean ball. Then Ryan Jones and Paige executed a perfect hit-and-run as Paige went all the way from first to third and Jones ended up on second. But it was all for naught as Mark Minicozzi went down swinging to end the inning.
In the second, Brian Cavanaugh got on board with a shot right back to the pitcher that squirted into center field. Then he stole second easily and almost took third on a throw that reached center field.
The third inning came and Charlotte got Adam Willard on base, he didn't last long as Alex Derhak hit into a double play. Then Sears made quick work of Adam Floyd as he struck him out for his fifth strikeout of the game. But the Pirate bats remained dormant as they couldn't muster a man to a bag in their half of the inning.
The Charlotte bats showed up in a big way in the fourth. The 49ers worked the bases loaded and scored three of the runs on singles from Brian Scafe and Jamie Rusco.
The Pirates crept onto the scoreboard as Norwood hit a shot deep into the recesses of the "Jungle" as he finally gave the Pirate faithful reason to cheer. The ball went almost to the same place as his grand slam on Tuesday against North Carolina A&T. However, that was all the scoring the Pirate offense would amass in the inning.
Sears finished his outing in the fifth inning as he was taken out in favor of Glen Tucker. Sears gave up three runs on five hits, but he had seven strikeouts. He left Tucker with runners at first and second and two outs. Tucker made quick work of Poplin, striking him out and leaving the Charlotte runners stranded.
The Pirates didn't threaten again until the sixth, but threaten was all they did. Minicozzi reached on a single and was moved over to third by a Jake Smith single. That is as far as they would go as the next two batters were retired by the Charlotte defense.
Charlotte added two more runs in the top of the seventh as Thomas Bowker hit a two-run homer over the center field wall. George Sandel almost made it two home runs in a row, but Paige robbed him at the left field warning track.
The Pirates managed another run in the eighth as Minicozzi hit a ball that Charlotte's shortstop couldn't handle and scored Jones. The next batter, Smith, walked and, with two runners on, Jason Tourangeau came to the plate as a pinch hitter representing the tying run. He wasn't able to produce, and the Pirates had two more runners left on base.
After holding the 49ers scoreless in the top of the ninth, the Pirates had one more chance in the bottom of the inning to salvage a win. But all three Pirate batters were retired and the ECU hopes for a win were dashed.
Charlotte 000 300 200 -- 5 9 2
East Carolina 000 100 010 -- 2 7 0
C: Adam Willard 2-4; Alex Derhak 1-3; Thomas Bowker 1-3 (2 RBI); George Sandel 1-3; Jamie Rusco 2-4 (2 RBI); Adam Floyd 1-4; ECU: Ryan Jones 2-4; Ryan Norwood 1-4 (HR, RBI); Jake Smith 2-3; Mark Minicozzi 1-4; Brian Cavanaugh 1-3.