ECU’s home debut has ‘Sowers’ ending
By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE — East Carolina freshman pitcher Sthil Sowers came within one strike of earning his first career win as a Pirate Friday. Unfortunately, the Monmouth Hawks wouldn’t oblige as their two-run rally in the ninth led to a heartbreaking 4-3 loss for ECU in its home opener.
Holding a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth with two outs, Sowers stared down the hill at Shawn Teters and worked the count to 1-2, before letting up a single that would eventually lead to devastation.
The Hawks’ number three hitter, Andy Meyers, proceeded to smash a Sowers’ pitch off the right field wall of Clark-LeClair Stadium which, after an errant cut-off throw by Jamie Ray, allowed Teters to come all the way home from first to tie the game up at 2-2.
On the next pitch, Shawn Niederhaus silenced the 3,101 Purple and Gold faithful as he rocketed a two-run home run over the right field wall to put the Hawks up 4-2.
The Pirates (1-4) sent the heart of the order up in the bottom of the ninth and looked poised for a comeback of their own when, with one out, DH Kyle Roller drilled a Justin Esposito pitch over the center field wall to cut Monmoth’s lead to 4-3. However, Brach retired the next two batters to seal the deal for the Hawks (1-0).
Esposito, who pitched only one inning of relief, picked up the win.
Sowers, who struck out four in 2 1/3 innings, got the loss.
Pirates’ coach Billy Godwin said that while it was a tough loss, the team will move on.
The dramatic ninth inning overshadowed dynamic performances by both starting pitchers. East Carolina’s T.J. Hose bounced back from his rough opening day start against South Carolina to allow one run in 6 2/3 innings while striking out five batters.
Hawks’ starter Brad Brach, the reigning Northeast Conference pitcher of the year, pitched six innings, letting up one earned run while fanning three batters in his team’s season opener.
Hose said the outing was a good confidence builder.
Hose looked like he might get his first win of the season when the Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Held hitless through three, ECU made its first two hits count as Wood collected the first Pirates’ first base knock with a rope down the left field foul line. Woods’ hit was followed up by a Stephen Batts’ RBI single. The belt by Batts gave ECU a 1-0 lead after four inning of play.
East Carolina had a chance to remove the zero from its run column in the first inning when leadoff hitter Harrison Eldridge starting the game off with a walk an eventually found himself at third with one out and Batts up at the plate.
Batts hit a hard grounder to Monmouth shortstop Kyle Higgins, who saw Eldridge break for home and nailed him at the plate. After Hawks’ catcher John Dennis tagged out Eldridge, he fired the ball to second baseman Chris Callazo, who tagged out Batts, who was trying to advance on the play.
Down 1-0, the Hawks answered back in the top of the fifth at when Teters nailed an RBI single up the middle to score John Dennis from second base to knot the game at 1-1.
After two scoreless innings by the Pirates, catcher Corey Kemp broke the stalemate when he launched a homer run over the left field fence of reliever Brett Brach in the seventh.
The Pirates held on to that lead up until the ninth inning. After the game, Kemp offered up some advice to his freshman teammate Sowers.
Monmouth 000 010 003 — 4 10 0
East Carolina 000 100 101 — 3 8 2
WP: Justin Esposito; LP: Sthil Sowers
Hitters: M — Shawn Teters 3-5 (RBI), Andy Meyers 1-4, Rick Niederhaus 2-5 (2 RBI), Chris Callazo 1-5, Rob Williams 2-4, John Dennis 1-4; E — Ryan Wood 2-4, Stephen Batts 1-3 (RBI), Kyle Roller 1-4 (HR), Corey Kemp 2-4 (HR), Drew Schieber 1-3, Broc Sutton 1-3)