Wolfpack slips past No. 24 Pirates

Published 3:27 pm Wednesday, April 2, 2008

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — When East Carolina and N.C. State meet on the baseball field, two things are certain: one-run games and large crowds.
That was the case once again Tuesday. The Wolfpack held off a late rally to post a 4-3 win over the No. 24 Pirates in front of 5,015 fans (the fifth largest crowd in ECU history) at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
It was the sixth straight one-run decision between the two teams, and the fourth consecutive victory by the Wolfpack (16-9) over the Pirates (18-8).
Chris Schaeffer led the Wolfpack offense with a career-high four hits, while Ryan Pond had two hits and drove in two.
Corey Kemp’s two-run home run in the eighth pulled the Pirates within a run, but it wasn’t quite enough. The senior catcher said the Pirates will forget about this one, and focus on tonight’s game against Campbell.
ECU starter Sthil Sowers (2-2), who retired the first six batters he faced, ran into some trouble in the third. Schaeffer and Drew Martin hit consecutive singles while Tommy Foschi drew a walk to load the bases with nobody out. Schaeffer scored when Dallas Poulk hit into a double play, while Pond’s single scored Martin to give the Wolfpack a 2-0 lead.
The Pirates pulled within 2-1 in the fourth. Kyle Roller reached on a fielder’s choice and went to third on Brandon Henderson’s single. Dustin Harrington reached on a fielder’s choice, which allowed Roller to score.
After Sowers (four runs on four hits, two strikeouts, one walk in four innings) allowed a leadoff single to Schaeffer and then plunked Martin to start the fifth, he was replaced by Josh Ruhlman (five hits, two strikeouts and one walk in 4 1/3 innings).
N.C. State proceeded to load the bases when Poulk walked. Pond followed with a long fly ball to left, which was misplayed by left fielder Stephen Batts, that scored one. Matt Payne then poked an RBI single into right, giving the Wolfpack a 4-1 lead.
The Pirates threatened in the bottom of the fifth. Singles by Ryan Wood and Batts, along with a walk by Kemp, loaded the bases. However, Roller bounced out to short to end the inning.
It was a solid way for Wolfpack starter Eryk McConnell (3-1) to end his evening. The senior allowed one run and scattered six hits over five innings, striking out three and walking two.
Wolfpack reliever Joey Cutler replaced McConnell on the hill and immediately made his presence known, striking out the ECU side in the sixth and striking out five in two innings.
But the Pirates got to Cutler in the eighth. After Batts legged out an infield single, Kemp blasted a two-run home run into right. Kemp’s seventh homer of the season pulled the Pirates within 4-3.
Wolfpack closer Jimmy Gillheeney, who earned his seventh save, made the Wolfpack lead stand up. The lefty allowed a two-out walk to Eldridge in the bottom of the ninth, but picked off the senior at first to end the game.
The teams will meet again April 15 in Raleigh.
ECU is home again today for a 6 p.m. game against Campbell. The Pirates posted an 11-3 win over the Camels earlier this year.
N.C. State 002 020 000 — 4 9 1
East Carolina 000 100 020 — 3 8 0
WP: Eryk McConnell (3-1); LP: Sthil Sowers (2-2); S: Jimmy Gillheeney (7)
Hitters: NCS — Chris Schaeffer 4-4, Ryan Pond 2-5 (2 RBI), Drew Martin 1-2, Dallas Poulk 1-3, Matt Payne 1-4 (RBI);
ECU — Corey Kemp 2-3 (HR, 2 RBI), Brandon Henderson 2-4, Stephen Batts 2-4, Ryan Wood 1-3, Harrison Eldridge 1-4.