ECU rallies to top Memphis in its conference opener
Published 4:37 pm Saturday, March 24, 2007
By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — Dale Mollenhauer’s three-run blast in the eighth capped a furious comeback by the No. 22 East Carolina Pirates, extending their winning streak to 11 games with a 12-10 win over the Memphis Tigers.
Drew Schieber had the first multi-home run game of his career, blasting two homers and driving in four to help ECU (17-6, 1-0) win its Conference USA opener in front of 3,215 fans Friday at Clark-LeClair Stadium. The home runs helped ECU, which has won 15 of its last 16, rally from a 10-4 deficit against the Tigers (14-7, 0-1), who saw their five-game winning streak come to a halt.
ECU’s 11-game winning streak is the third longest in the country behind Missouri (13 straight) and Ohio State (12 straight). The winning streak is also the longest since the Pirates won a school-record 19 consecutive games in 2004.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the second. Joey Lieberman (3-for-4 with three runs and three RBIs) led off with a double and later scored on Adam Amar’s two-out single.
Lieberman made it a 2-0 game in the top of the fourth with his third homer of the season.
Corey Kemp’s bouncer into center in the bottom half scored Stephen Batts, who reached earlier with a single, to pull ECU within 2-1.
Batts (2-for-5 with three RBIs) drilled a bases-loaded clearing double in the fifth to give the Pirates a 4-2 lead.
The Tigers responded in a big way in the sixth, sending 13 batters to the plate and scoring eight runs for a 10-4 lead. Memphis chased ECU starter T.J. Hose, who had won his previous four decisions, in the process.
Hose (five runs on seven hits with one strikeout and three walks in five innings) departed with the bases loaded in the sixth.
Reliever Jason Neitz was rocked by Memphis, giving up four hits on four pitches. Kyle Norrid, Michael Murray and Amar (3-for-4 with two RBIs) had RBI-singles before Josh Irvin ripped a three-run double to give the Tigers an 8-4 lead. Lieberman’s two-run single off reliever Brett Butts (2-0), making it 10-4, capped the uprising. It was the first run Butts (one run on two hits with five strikeouts in three innings) had allowed in 14 appearances this season.
Schieber’s three-run blast in the bottom of the sixth pulled the Pirates within 10-7. That helped to end Memphis starter Scott McGregor’s day (seven runs on eight hits in five innings).
The Pirates weren’t done, putting up five runs in the eighth off Memphis reliever Dusty Davis to capture the lead. Schieber (3-for-4 with two homers and four RBIs) tagged his second home run of the game and third of the season, a solo shot to lead off the inning, to pull ECU within 10-8.
A walk to Ryan Wood and a double by Harrison Eldridge (3-for-4 with two doubles) ended the day for Davis.
Mollenhauer took the first offering from reliever Matt Yokley (3-2) and deposited it over the fence in right to give the Pirates an 11-10 lead. It was Mollenhauer’s second long ball of the season.
Batts later scored on an error to cap the scoring.
Shane Mathews slammed the door in the ninth to pick up his eighth save of the season. He fanned two in the process.
The Pirates and Tigers play again today at 6 p.m., followed by Sunday’s series finale at 11 a.m.
ECU concludes its 20-game homestand Wednesday against UNC-Wilmington.