Eldridge powers Pirates past Rams

Published 11:44 am Wednesday, March 12, 2008

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — The smallest player on the field came up huge time and time again.
Harrison Eldridge, who stands 5-7, smacked four hits, stole four bases and drove in four runs to lead East Carolina to a 10-4 victory over Virginia Commonwealth on a sunny Tuesday afternoon at Clark-LeClair Stadium. Eldridge, who belted a home run among his four hits, was humble after the victory.
The Pirates (9-4) posted their eighth consecutive win in front of 2,571 fans.
Freshman Sthil Sowers (1-1) notched his first college win for the Pirates. The 6-2, 151-pound right-hander allowed three runs on three hits in 5 1/3 innings of work.
Eldridge set the tone early with a first-pitch single off VCU starter Phillip Deane (six runs, four earned, eight hits, 3 1/3 innings), who fell to 0-2 on the year, in the first inning. Eldridge stole second and third and then scored on a sac fly by Stephen Batts.
Jamie Ray and Eldridge collected RBI singles in the second to give the Pirates a 3-0 lead over the Rams (2-10).
VCU pulled within 3-2 in the third when Richard Gonzalez had an RBI single and Jared Bolden’s groundout plated another runner.
The Pirates gained a little breathing room in the fourth. Former Washington Pam Pack star Trent Whitehead, who started in left field and went 0-2 with a run scored and a stolen base, was hit by a pitch with one out. After Ray singled, Eldridge smacked his second homer of the season, a three-run blast to right that gave ECU a 6-2 advantage.
Michael Cheatham’s RBI single in the sixth pulled the Rams within 6-3, but the Pirates responded with a pair of runs in the seventh. Batts walked and Brandon Henderson singled up the middle. Batts eventually scored on a wild pitch, while Henderson trotted home on a sac fly off the bat of pinch-hitter Austin Homan.
Cheatham’s second RBI single in the eighth made it 8-4, but a two-run double by Batts in the bottom half of the inning closed out the scoring.
Eldridge stole his fourth base of the game in the eighth, which gave him 15 for the season. That already matches his career-high for a single season.
Daniel Holder, Seth Simmons, Josh Ruhlman and Bailey Daniels, who struck out one in a perfect ninth, also pitched for the Pirates.
ECU plays host to the Quinnipiac Bobcats on Thursday at 7 p.m. Freshman southpaw Matt Laney (0-0, 7.71 ERA) will start for the Pirates.
ECU will then welcome Rhode Island to town for a three-games series beginning Friday. The Pirates and Rams will play at 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
VCU 002 001 010 — 4 5 3
ECU 120 300 22x — 10 12 0
WP: Sthil Sowers (1-1); LP: Phillip Deane (0-2)
Hitters: VCU — Michael Cheatham 2-3 (2 RBI), Richard Gonzalez 1-4 (RBI), Joe Van Meter 1-4 (2B), Chris Jackson 1-4; ECU — Harrison Eldridge 4-5 (HR, 4 RBI, 4 SB, 3 R), Stephen Batts 2-3 (2 2B, 3 RBI), Jamie Ray 2-4 (RBI), Brandon Henderson 2-4, Ryan Wood 1-4, Dustin Harrington 1-4, Trent Whitehead 0-2 (SB, R).