Pirate bats fall silent in loss to Houston
By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — One day after pounding out 16 hits in a 15-4 win Saturday, the East Carolina Pirates were limited to a season-low four in Sunday’s 8-5 loss to Houston.
The Cougars banged out 14 hits, including four from Blake Kelso and three from Bryan Pounds, which helped Houston take two of three games in the Conference USA series opener.
Three of ECU’s four hits came in a five-run fifth. Houston (14-7, 2-1), which benefited from three ECU (15-6, 1-2) errors, reclaimed the lead for good in the sixth.
The Cougars, benefiting from a lost ball in the sun, jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first. Jake Stewart hit a fly ball that ECU centerfielder Harrison Eldridge lost in the sun, which led to a Stewart double. Pounds followed with a single into right that scored Stewart.
Houston added four more runs in the third. Pounds ripped a two-run double into left-center, while an error by ECU first baseman Stephen Batts allowed two more to score for a 5-0 advantage.
The Pirates finally got something going offensively in the fifth. They sent 11 batters to the plate and scored five runs off three hits and five walks.
Drew Schieber broke up Houston starter Donnie Joseph’s no-hit bid with a one-out single, coming after Joseph had walked Dustin Harrington. Jamie Ray’s single into left scored Harrington to get the Pirates on the scoreboard. A walk to Eldridge loaded the bases, and ended the day for Joseph (four runs, two hits, three strikeouts, four walks in 4 1/3 innings).
Houston reliever Jared Ray came in and didn’t retire any of the three batters he faced. A walk to Ryan Wood, an RBI single by Stephen Batts and a walk to Brandon Henderson scored three more runs to pull the Pirates within 5-4.
Cougar reliever Bryan Tully walked Kyle Roller, the third bases-loaded walk issued by Houston pitching in the inning, which tied the game 5-5. Tully fanned Harrington to end the long inning, leaving the bases loaded.
Austin Goolsby’s first home run of the season, a solo shot with one out in the sixth, gave the Cougars a 6-5 edge. A walk to the next batter, Zak Presley, ended the afternoon for ECU starter Justin Bristow (3-1), who struck out seven and walked two in 5 1/3 innings. The junior transfer from Auburn, who allowed eight runs (four earned) on seven hits, suffered his first loss as a Pirate.
Presley, who advanced to third on a throwing error by ECU reliever Josh Ruhlman (one run, five hits in two innings), trotted home on Kelso’s third hit of the game to extend the Houston lead to 7-5.
The Cougars pushed their lead to 8-5 in the seventh on Matt Murphy’s RBI single.
Tully (1-2) made the lead stand up. He gave up just one hit while fanning four and walking three in four innings of work.
Walks by Eldridge and Wood brought the tying run, Batts, to the plate with one out in the ninth. Houston closer Chase Dempsay got Batts to pop out, then got Henderson to fly out to end the game.
ECU caps its 13-game homestand Wednesday with a 6 p.m. game against Campbell, before departing for Florida on Friday for a three-game C-USA series with UCF.
Houston 104 002 100 — 8 14 2
ECU 000 050 000 — 5 4 3
WP: Bryan Tully (1-2); LP: Justin Bristow (3-1); S: Chase Dempsay (3)
Hitters: H — Blake Kelso 4-5 (RBI), Bryan Pounds 3-4 (2B, 3 RBI), Matt Murphy 2-4 (RBI), Chris Wallace 1-2, Zak Presley 1-3, Austin Goolsby 1-4 (HR, RBI), Jake Stewart 1-4 (2B), Ryan Lormand 1-5; ECU — Jamie Ray 1-3 (RBI), Drew Schieber 1-3, Harrison Eldridge 1-3 (2B), Stephen Batts 1-5 (RBI), Trent Whitehead 0-1, Kyle Roller 0-2 (RBI), Ryan Wood 0-3 (RBI), Brandon Henderson 0-4 (RBI)