ECU will face Rice for C-USA tourney title

Published 4:01 am Sunday, May 27, 2007

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — This time, the Pirates didn‘t need any late game heroics.
East Carolina, which won its first two Conference USA Tournament games in dramatic fashion, rolled to a 9-4 victory over the Tulane Green Wave on Saturday afternoon at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
The No. 2 seed Pirates (39-20) will play No. 1 seed Rice (48-12), the regular season champions, for the C-USA Tournament championship today at 1 p.m., along with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
ECU, which has won four straight, will be seeking its second C-USA Tournament championship. The Pirates won the tournament title in 2002 at Kinston’s Grainger Stadium.
No. 7 seed Tulane, which eliminated ECU in last year’s conference tournament, fell to 34-26 on the year.
Stephen Batts led ECU’s offensive charge with two hits and three RBIs. The senior extended his hitting streak to 25 games in the process, the second longest in school history.
(Steve Sides holds the record with a 28-game hitting streak in 1987.)
After another slow start, ECU finished with 11 hits off four Tulane pitchers. The bulk came in the later innings when ECU pulled away after the game was tied, 3-3.
Tulane’s defense certainly didn’t help freshman starter Aaron Loup (2-1), committing three errors in the first inning that enabled the Pirates to jump out to a 3-0 lead. Batts hit a two-run single and later scored when Kyle Roller reached on an error for the early lead.
Tim Guidry homered in the third and Brad Emaus went deep in the fourth to pull Tulane within 3-2. Guidry’s RBI single in the fifth tied it at 3-3.
Drew Schieber led off the seventh with a solo shot, his sixth of the year, to give ECU a 4-3 lead.
Batts added an RBI-double later in the inning to give ECU a 5-3 lead.
That completed Loup’s day. The freshman lefty allowed five runs (two earned) on five hits, striking out three and walking three.
Tulane made it 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh on Anthony Scelfo’s sac fly. ECU starter Josh Dowdy (5-1), who allowed four runs on six hits in six innings, departed in the inning.
The Green Wave got the potential game-tying runner to third base in the seventh, but reliever Bailey Daniels got Guidry to pop out to end the inning. Daniels, making his third appearance of the tournament, gave up one hit in 1 1/3 innings.
ECU added three insurance runs in the eighth. Pinch hitter Jake Dean ripped an RBI double off reliever Daniel Latham (three runs on four hits in one-third of an inning) to ignite the rally. Corey Kemp and Harrison Eldridge added RBI singles for an 8-4 cushion.
Schieber, who went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, capped the scoring with an RBI single in the ninth.
Shane Mathews closed it out for the Pirates with a perfect ninth.
ECU’s Jamie Ray extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the sixth.
Rice advances
The Owls advanced to the championship game with a 20-9 win over No. 5 seed Memphis (36-25) Saturday afternoon in the second meeting of the day between the two teams. Memphis forced the second game with a 2-1 win in the morning.
Aaron Luna had four hits and seven RBIs, including a grand slam in the sixth and a solo shot in the ninth, to lead the Owls. The seven RBIs tied a C-USA Tournament single-game record
Jess Buenger hit two home runs, scored a C-USA Tournament game-tying five runs and drove in four for the Owls. Adam Zornes and Danny Lehmann also homered for the Owls, who banged out 20 hits.
Joe Savery (9-1) picked up the win. The C-USA Player of the Year gave up six runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Neil Schenk (2-1) suffered the loss.
Bill Moss hit his conference-leading 14th home run, a two-run shot in the sixth, for the Tigers.
Moss and Adam Amar hit consecutive home runs in the fourth inning off loser Chris Kelley (3-3) in the first game, which snapped Rice‘s 20-game winning streak. Kelley allowed the two runs on four hits over seven innings.
Will Hudgens (5-2) got the win. Matt Yokely picked up his ninth save.
Jared Gayhart’s sac fly in the fifth brought in Rice’s lone run.
2007 C-USA Tournament
Clark-LeClair Stadium
Wednesday’s Games
Game 1 – (5) Memphis 12, (4) Houston 4
Game 2 – (1) Rice 16, (8) UCF 6
Game 3 – (3) Southern Miss 9, (6) UAB 5
Game 4 – (2) East Carolina 4, (7) Tulane 2
Thursday’s Games
Game 5 – (8) UCF 1, (4) Houston 0
Game 6 – (7) Tulane 13, (6) UAB 5
Game 7 – (1) Rice 7, (5) Memphis 5
Game 8 – (2) East Carolina 2, (3) Southern Miss 1
Friday’s Games
Game 9 – (5) Memphis 12, (8) UCF 6
Game 10 – (7) Tulane 6, (3) Southern Miss 2
Saturday’s Games
Game 11 – (5) Memphis 2, (1) Rice 1
Game 12 – (2) East Carolina 9, (7) Tulane 4
Game 13 – (1) Rice 20, (5) Memphis 9
Sunday’s Game
1 p.m. – Championship Game: (2) East Carolina vs. (1) Rice