ECU remains on a Roll(er)

Published 1:12 pm Wednesday, March 19, 2008

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — Kyle Roller helped East Carolina run its winning streak to 13 straight in grand fashion.
The bulky sophomore belted a grand slam during a six-run fifth inning and added a two-run shot in a 10-run seventh, which led the No. 23 Pirates to an 18-3 win over the Elon Phoenix.
Tuesday’s win in front of 2,826 fans at Clark-LeClair Stadium, which helped ECU (14-4) avenge a 9-6 loss at Elon (17-3) earlier in the year, was certainly packed with fireworks. After Stephen Batts smashed a three-run homer in the seventh, tempers got the better of some players. Four players were ejected in the inning.
Batts and Harrison Eldridge were ejected for the Pirates, while Elon first baseman Ryan Adams and catcher Mike Melillo were tossed.
The Pirates pounded 13 hits in their 13th straight victory, including three by Corey Kemp. Roller, Batts, Drew Schieber and Brandon Henderson added two apiece.
ECU’s 13-game winning streak, six shy of the club record of 19 established in 2004, is tied for sixth longest in program history. The 2001 and 1994 teams also won 13 straight.
The Pirates won 14 consecutive games twice (2007, 1977) and 15 straight two times (1989, 1986).
During the current streak, the Pirates have outscored their opponents 138-56.
The Pirates jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first on Henderson’s two-out RBI single.
Drew Schieber’s two-out RBI double down the left field line in the second gave ECU a 2-0 advantage.
Elon pulled within 2-1 in the third as Pat Irvine drew a bases-load walked.
Neal Pritchard led off the fourth with a home run into right. His third home run of the season tied the game 2-2.
The Pirates broke it open with a six-run fifth inning. Elon freshman Ken Ferrer (3-1), who replaced starter Cory Harrilchak (two runs, three hits, one strikeout, three walks in two innings) in the third, retired the first seven batters he faced before the wheels fell off.
Eldridge started the uprising. The senior was hit by a pitch and then stole second, which gave him 50 stolen bases for his career (seventh in the ECU record book).
A walk and an infield hit loaded the bases. Henderson slapped an RBI single and Kemp drew a walk to force in another run, giving the Pirates a 4-2 edge.
Roller followed by smashing the first grand slam of his career. The shot to center increased ECU’s lead to 8-2.
The Pirates erupted for 10 runs while sending 13 batters to the plate in the seventh. Batts spanked a three-run shot, his third of the season, to make it 12-3.
Roller crushed a two-run shot, his fifth of the year, to cap the uprising. It was the second two-homer game of Roller’s career.
Dustin Harrington added a two-run single in the onslaught.
Josh Ruhlman (2-1), who replaced starter Sthil Sowers (two runs, three hits, two strikeouts, six walks in 4 2/3 innings) in the fifth, got the win. The senior southpaw allowed an unearned run and one hit in 2 2/3 innings.
The Pirates and Phoenix will meet for a third time April 9 in Elon.
ECU opens Conference USA play this weekend against the Houston Cougars. The teams will play at 7 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Easter Sunday.
Elon 001 100 100 — 3 6 2
ECU 110 060 (10)0x — 18 13 1
WP: Brad Ruhlman (2-1); LP: Ken Ferrer (3-1)
Hitters: Elon — Harry Austin 2-4 (2B), Neal Pritchard 1-4 (HR), Danny Jobe 1-3 (2B), Matt Hinson 1-1, Ralph Reyes 1-1; ECU — Corey Kemp 3-4 (RBI), Kyle Roller 2-3 (2 HR, 6 RBI, 4 runs), Drew Schieber 2-5 (2 2B, 3 RBI), Stephen Batts 2-5 (HR, 3 RBI), Brandon Henderson 2-5 (2 RBI), Ryan Wood 1-2 (RBI), Dustin Harrington 1-4 (2 RBI).