Ray’s blast powers ECU past Monarchs

Published 4:45 pm Wednesday, April 9, 2008

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — East Carolina coach Billy Godwin had an inkling that Jamie Ray was due. The senior certainly took advantage of his opportunity.
Ray blasted a pinch-hit, three-run home run in the sixth to lead the No. 28 Pirates to a 4-2 victory over the Old Dominion Monarchs on a chilly Tuesday evening.
Ray’s homer, coming in front of 2,747 fans at Clark-LeClair Stadium, was his first in 160 at-bats.
The Pirates (22-9) won for the second time over the Monarchs (15-15) this season, doing so on 13 fewer hits than in the March 4 victory. ECU took a 20-13 win in 10 innings behind 19 hits in the first meeting.
ECU starter Sthil Sowers (3-2) picked up the win after going a career-long 6 1/3 innings. He dodged a bullet in the first inning. Max Most, Bryan Cipolla and Anthony Shawler hit consecutive one-out singles to load the bases, but Sowers got David Burns to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
The Monarchs took a 1-0 lead in the second. Jake McAloose hit a leadoff double, moved to third on an error and eventually scored on a groundout by Chris Keenan.
Cipolla’s RBI single in the third increased ODU’s lead to 2-0.
That’s all the Monarchs would get off Sowers, who allowed the two runs (one earned) on six hits. The freshman struck out four and walked one.
The Pirates, held to one hit through three innings, threatened in the fourth. Kyle Roller drew a two-out walk and Brandon Henderson smoked a double into left. However, ODU starter Ryan Bergh stranded the runners when he got Dustin Harrington to fly out to left.
ECU finally broke through in the sixth. Stephen Batts drew a one-out walk off Bergh, the ODU pitcher’s fifth of the game. Corey Kemp then laced a double into right to put two runners in scoring position.
That ended the night for Bergh, who scattered three hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Ray launched the second pitch from ODU reliever Kyle Hald over the fence for a 3-2 lead. Ray’s blast into The Jungle was his first home run since May 5, when he hit a grand slam against Houston.
The Pirates added an insurance run in the seventh to go up 4-2. Former Washington Pam Pack standout Trent Whitehead, who made his 14th start, beat out an infield hit to start the inning. Bobby Fowler reached on an error and Harrison Eldridge dropped down a bunt single to load the bases. Whitehead, who made a sensational diving grab in right field in the top of the inning, trotted home when Kemp drew a two-out walk.
Josh Ruhlman looked to close out the game, but walked two in the ninth. Brad Mincey came in, facing a 2-0 count against Gerard Hall, and walked Hall to load the bases. However, the freshman buckled down and struck out Jimmy Miles to end it.
The Pirates return to action tonight at Elon. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.
ECU will play host to Marshall for a three-game Conference USA series this weekend. Game times are set for 6 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
Old Dominion 011 000 000 — 2 7 1
East Carolina 000 003 10x — 4 6 2
WP: Sthil Sowers (3-2); LP: Kyle Hald (3-1); Save: Brad Mincey (1)
Hitters: ODU — Bryan Cipolla 2-4 (RBI), Max Most 2-3, Gerard Hall 1-3, Jake McAloose 1-3 (2B), Anthony Shawler 1-4, Chris Keenan 0-3 (RBI); ECU — Jamie Ray 1-2 (HR, 3 RBI), Trent Whitehead 1-2, Corey Kemp 1-3 (2B, RBI), Brandon Henderson 1-4 (2B), Ryan Wood 1-4, Harrison Eldridge 1-4.