Kemp, Roller come up with key hits in Pirates victories
By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — Kyle Roller had a mother of a game, going 3-for-4 with a home run and six RBIs in leading the East Carolina Pirates past the UCF Golden Knights, 13-8, on Mother’s Day.
The freshman, who had 10 RBIs in the series, helped the Pirates (35-17, 13-7) to a sweep of the Knights (24-29, 5-16) in Conference USA play at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
ECU, which has won seven straight conference games, stayed in second place in the C-USA standings with the sweep.
Jake Dean and Jamie Ray each scored three times in Sunday’s win, which saw rain give way to sunshine by the middle innings.
ECU took an 8-7 win over UCF earlier in the completion of Saturday’s suspended game. Corey Kemp’s solo home run in the eighth broke a 7-7 tie.
In the finale of the series, UCF benefited from two Pirate errors in the first two innings to take a 2-0 lead.
Roller erased ECU’s deficit with one swing of the bat off UCF starter Eric English (2-4). With two aboard, the freshman designated hitter took English’s 1-1 offering and deposited it over the right field fence for a 3-2 lead. It was Roller’s seventh of the season and second in as many days.
UCF responded with three runs in the third. Chris Duffy blasted a two-run shot, his sixth of the year, to help give the Knights a 5-3 advantage.
The Pirates answered with a 5-run third, collecting five straight hits in the process. Dean, Ray, Roller and Kemp hit consecutive run-scoring singles in the uprising as ECU grabbed an 8-5 lead.
The Knights loaded the bases with nobody out in the fourth, chasing ECU starter Josh Dowdy (five runs, three earned, on nine hits in three innings). Bailey Daniels came on and retired the next three batters, two by strikeout, to keep it a three-run game.
Roller and Kemp smacked two-run singles and Broc Sutton belted an RBI-double in the fourth to push ECU’s lead to 13-5.
The Pirates went down quietly after that as UCF pitchers retired the final 13 Pirates they faced.
The Knights kept things interesting as Eric Kallstrom hit a two-run homer in the fifth and Kiko Vazquez blasted a solo shot in the sixth, his team-leading ninth of the year, to pull UCF within 13-8.
UCF loaded the bases with nobody out in the ninth, getting three straight hits off Josh Ruhlman (5-1). The lefty, who was credited with the win, allowed a run on five hits with four strikeouts in four innings.
ECU closer Shane Mathews, who picked up the victory in the suspended game, came on and retired three straight to end it. Mathews earned his team-leading 12th save in the process.
Stephen Batts singled in the second inning to extend his hitting streak to 18 games, which is the fourth longest in ECU history. Steve Sides hold the record with a 28-game hitting streak in 1987.
Vazquez, Brandon Romans and Kallstrom all had three hits for the Knights.
Kemp saved the Pirates in the suspended game. The Pirates had a 7-1 lead in the fifth inning when Saturday’s suspended game resumed. UCF went on to tie the game at 7-7 thanks to two runs in the fifth and four in the sixth.
Kemp’s solo homer off UCF closer Justin Weiss (4-1) to lead off the eighth, his fourth of the year, gave the Pirates an 8-7 lead. Kemp had entered as a defensive replacement an inning earlier.
Mathews (3-3) pitched 1 2/3 innings of shutout ball to pick up the victory.
Ryan Wood went 3-for-4 with four stolen bases to go with two runs scored and an RBI to highlight ECU offensively. Roller and Drew Schieber both homered for ECU.
The Pirates stole eight bases in the game, which tied a single-game record. It was the fifth time in team history the Pirates stole that many bases.
Tyson Auer and Kyle Mills each banged out three hits for the Knights.
ECU will play its final regular season home game Tuesday against Elon before closing C-USA play Thursday thru Friday at UAB.
The C-USA Tournament will be May 23-27 at Clark-LeClair Stadium.