Pirates rolled over by Tide
By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
CONWAY, S.C. — It certainly was no day at the beach for East Carolina.
The Pirates, the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Conway Regional, got clobbered by third-seeded Alabama, 16-3, Friday evening at Charles Watson Stadium’s Vrooman Field. If ECU has any hopes of getting to Omaha, it will have to first get through today’s elimination game against the Columbia Lions.
The Pirates (40-20) will play No. 4 seed Columbia (22-29) in the elimination game at 1 p.m. today. The Lions fell to top seed Coastal Carolina (48-12), 10-2, Friday afternoon.
The Tide (35-26) fell behind early, but used a pair of three-run home runs in consecutive innings to take the lead for good. Every Alabama starter had at least one hit, and none seemed intimidated by ECU starter Seth Maness (9-2), a third-team All-American. Eight players had multiple hit games for the Tide, with five different players hitting home runs.
Jamie Ray gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the first inning, clubbing his fifth homer of the year over the fence in left.
Alabama starter Austin Hyatt (5-4) settled down after the hit, keeping the Pirates at bay. The junior right-handed limited the Pirates to three runs on five hits over eight innings. Hyatt struck out nine and walked three.
The Tide took the lead for good in the second on Jake Smith’s home run. His three-run blast, the eighth of the season, gave Alabama a 3-1 lead.
Matt Bentley hit Alabama’s second three-run homer during a 5-run third inning, helping the Tide go up 8-1. The Tide sent 10 batters to the plate, collected six hits and chased Maness in the process. Josh Rutledge added an RBI single and the Tide scored after taking advantage of a rare Harrison Eldridge error in the inning.
Maness struggled in his first regional appearance, giving up eight runs on nine hits in 2 2-3 innings.
The Tide added three runs in the fourth to go up 11-1.
Henderson’s 10th homer in the fourth and Kyle Roller’s RBI double in the fifth pulled ECU within 11-3.
The Tide closed the scoring with three more long balls, including a solo blast by Kent Matthes (his 11th) in the eighth, and two-run shots by Ross Wilson (his 13th) and pinch hitter Wes Henderson in the ninth.
Matt Laney was a bright spot for the Pirates. The freshman reliever allowed a run on four hits over 4 2-3 innings. He struck out three and walked one.
NCAA CONWAY REGIONAL
Alabama 035 300 014 — 16 21 0
ECU 100 101 000 — 3 6 1
WP: Austin Hyatt (5-4); LP: Seth Maness (9-2)
Hitters: Ala — Matt Bentley 3-5 (HR, 2B, 4 RBIs), Ross Wilson 3-5 (HR, 2 RBIs), Josh Rutledge 3-6 (RBI), Jake Smith 2-4 (HR, 4 RBIs), Kent Matthes 2-6 (HR, 2 RBIs), Alex Avila 2-4, Alex Kubal 2-5, Tyler Odle 2-6 (2B), Wes Henderson 1-1 (HR, 2 RBIs), Brandon May 1-4; ECU — Trent Whitehead 1-1, Brandon Henderson 1-3 (HR, RBI), Dustin Harrington 1-3, Jamie Ray 1-4 (HR, RBI), Kyle Roller 1-4 (2B, RBI), Stephen Batts 1-4.