ECU extends its winning streak to 12
Published 4:49 pm Sunday, March 25, 2007
By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — The No. 22 East Carolina Pirates have a dozen reasons to be happy.
Corey Kemp hit an absolute bomb to help lead the Pirates to their 12th straight victory, a 12-0 win over the Memphis Tigers. It was the third straight game the Pirates put up 12 runs on the scoreboard.
Kemp’s three-run blast in the third inning soared over “The Jungle” to highlight Saturday’s victory, ECU’s 16th in the last 17 games, in front of 3,651 fans at Clark-LeClair Stadium. More importantly, it kept the Pirates (18-6, 2-0) unbeaten in Conference USA play with their second straight win over the Tigers (14-8, 0-2).
ECU’s 12-game winning streak is its longest since the Pirates won a school-record 19 straight in 2004. Two of those wins have been by shutout, and ECU starter Dustin Sasser (3-0) has been a part of both. ECU’s previous shutout victory was a 2-0 nod over Cal State Fullerton on March 10.
Sasser was the beneficiary of the big run support. The junior posted his third win by pitching seven innings of four-hit ball. Sasser struck out six and walked three.
The Pirates seemed to feed off the momentum of Friday’s win, a come-from-behind 12-10 victory.
ECU read Memphis starting pitcher Ben Grisham (0-1), the nephew of renowned author John Grisham, like an open book. The Pirates scored seven runs on six hits off Grisham, who departed after 6 1/3 innings.
ECU took the lead in the second. Ryan Tousley, who had been mired in a 1-for-19 slump, led off with a shot between the wickets of Grisham. Kemp walked to get two aboard. Drew Schieber dropped down a bunt to move the runners across. Grisham tried to force Tousley out at third, but his throw sailed into foul territory, which allowed Tousley to score. Mark Letchworth’s grounder scored Kemp for a 2-0 lead.
Kemp, who went 2-for-3 with three runs and three RBIs, needed just one swing of the bat to increase ECU’s lead to 5-0 in the third. Harrison Eldridge and Stephen Batts set the table with singles. Kemp later hit a mammoth three-run homer, his second of the season, to clear the bases.
The Pirates tacked on two more runs in the seventh. Brandon Henderson and Ryan Wood, who was 2-for-4, set the stage with a pair of singles. After Eldridge walked to load the bases, Dale Mollenhauer drew a walk to force in a run. Batts followed with a sacrifice fly to score Wood to give ECU a 7-0 lead.
ECU added five more runs in the eighth. Kyle Roller’s pinch-hit, two-run single into right made it 9-0. Batts later drew a bases-loaded walk to force in another run. Tousley (2-for-5 with two RBIs) added a two-run single to extend the lead to 12-0.
Mike Flye pitched the final two innings for the Pirates. The senior, who allowed two hits and two walks while striking out three, worked out of a bases-load jam in the ninth to preserve the shutout.
The Pirates and Tigers conclude the series at 11 a.m. today. ECU ends its 20-game homestand Wednesday against UNC-Wilmington.