Pirates win a classic over Catamounts
By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — Brandon Henderson helped the East Carolina Pirates win in classic fashion Sunday to wrap up the 4th Annual Keith LeClair Classic.
Henderson drilled a two-out double down the right field line to score Dale Mollenhauer with the game-winner in the bottom of the ninth, lifting ECU to a 3-2 win over the Western Carolina Catamounts.
It was a clutch hit as the Pirates had left 10 runners stranded up to that point. That included leaving the bases loaded without scoring in the first and third innings.
The win Sunday, coming in front of 3,010 fans at Clark-LeClair Stadium, helped the Pirates (7-6) win two of three games in the tournament. ECU defeated No. 12 Pepperdine 5-4 on Friday and then lost 5-4 in 10 innings to No. 20 N.C. State on Saturday.
Starter Josh Dowdy was close to great Sunday for the Pirates. The sophomore went a career-best eight innings and allowed two runs on three hits, striking out five and hitting three batters.
He didn’t factor in the decision, but he kept the Pirates in the game.
Dowdy only had one rough inning. The Catamounts (6-4) took a 2-0 lead in the fourth, taking advantage of a pair of plunked batters. Dowdy hit Jason Haynes in the head to start the inning, ending a string of eight consecutive outs. One out later, Dowdy beaned Blake Murphy to put two aboard. Steven Strausbaugh brought them both in with a double into the left-center field gap.
David Forbes tied the game with a two-run blast in the sixth. Drew Schieber slapped a two-out single up the middle and Forbes followed with a towering shot into left-center, his second of the year, to make it 2-2.
That was all the Pirates would get off Catamount starter Drew Saberhagen, the son of former Major League pitcher Bret Saberhagen. The crafty lefty gave up 11 hits, but allowed just two runs in seven innings of work. He struck out one and didn’t walk a batter.
The Pirates were able to push across the game-winner in the ninth. Mollenhauer slapped a one-out single into left for his third hit of the game. Two batters later, Henderson drilled his game-winning hit into right off Holland (0-1).
ECU reliever Brett Butts (1-0) earned the win. He pitched the ninth and walked one, but was helped out by an inning-ending double play.
No. 12 Pepperdine took a 5-2 win over No. 20 N.C. State in Sunday’s opening day of the tournament.
The Pirates will return to action Tuesday at home for a 3 p.m. game against North Carolina A&T. ECU will then play host to No. 8 Cal State Fullerton for a three-game series beginning Friday. The Pirates and Titans will play at 5 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday.