Pirates fall short of Super Regionals

Published 2:13 am Sunday, June 1, 2008

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
CONWAY, S.C. — East Carolina fought valiantly out of the losers’ bracket, but the Pirates saw their season come to an end Sunday night in the NCAA Conway Regional
The top-seeded and 10th-ranked Coastal Carolina Chanticleers cruised to a 24-11 victory at Charles Watson Stadium’s Vrooman Field.
The No. 2 seed Pirates (42-21) came up short of making their third trip to a Super Regional.
ECU senior Harrison Eldridge said it was a tough way to cap his career.
The Chanticleers (50-12) advanced to their first Super Regional, where they’ll face No. 2 national seed North Carolina. The Tar Heels (49-12) won the Cary Regional after beating UNC-Wilmington.
The 24 runs scored by Coastal, a Chanticleer school-record in postseason action, was the most allowed by the Pirates in tournament play. The previous high came in a 21-1 loss to Clemson in the Clemson Regional on June 2, 2002.
Coastal used a monstrous 13-run second inning to take control. David Sappelt hit a grand slam and David Anderson jacked a three-run shot, his second of the game and 20th of the season, to highlight the outburst.
The 13 runs is the second most in a single inning in NCAA tournament history. LSU scored 18 runs in one inning in a 29-13 win over Georgia Tech on May 26, 1998.
Six different ECU pitches couldn’t slow down the Chanticleers, who posted 21 hits. Among those hits were five home runs.
Anderson set the tone early by launching a two-run shot in the top of the first.
Corey Kemp, the Conference USA Player of the Year, blasted a three-run shot in the bottom half to give ECU the lead. It gave the senior 18 homers (tied for eighth all-time) and 73 RBIs (third all-time) on the year.
One pitch later, Brandon Henderson smashed his 11th homer of the year to give the Pirates a 4-2 advantage.
The Chanticleers responded in a big way, erupting for 13 runs on seven hits and chasing both ECU starter Sthil Sowers (four runs on five hits in 1 1-3 innings) and reliever Josh Ruhlman (eight runs on five hits without recording an out) in the process.
Sappelt’s slam, his 18th homer of the year, and Anderson’s three-run shot were the big blows. Every starter scored at least one run and four different players scored twice in the uprising.
ECU cut its deficit in half, 16-8, with a four-run third. Drew Schieber hit a two-run single and Dustin Harrington added an RBI single in the frame.
Chance Gilmore’s three-run homer and Tyler Bortnick’s two-run double in the fourth gave Coastal a 21-8 lead.
Tommy Baldrich’s 10th homer of the year, a solo shot in the fifth, extended the lead to 22-8.
The Chanticleers added two more runs in the sixth to go up 24-8.
Ryan Wood’s 13th homer in the bottom half made it 24-9, while an RBI double by Eldridge and an RBI single by Jamie Ray in the eighth closed the scoring.
It capped a terrific regional tournament for Ray, who hit .500 (10 for 20) with three home runs, a double, 11 RBIs and six runs scored.
Ray was joined on the all-tournament team by Henderson and pitcher Justin Bristow.
The game was the final one for ECU’s six seniors — Kemp, Ray, Ruhlman, Eldridge, T.J. Hose and Brett Butts.
“They left good leadership,” Godwin said. “They had great careers here.”
Game 6
Coastal 2(13)1 512 000 — 24 21 2
ECU 404 001 020 — 11 16 5
WP: David Anderson (6-2); LP: Josh Ruhlman (4-4)
Hitters: CCU — Tommy Baldridge 4-6 (HR, RBI, 4 runs), David Sappelt 3-6 (HR, 4 RBIs), Scott Woodward 3-4 (3 RBIs, 3 runs), David Anderson 2-7 (2 HR’s, 5 RBIs), Tyler Bortnick 2-6 (2B, 3 RBIs, 3 runs), Chance Gilmore 2-5 (HR, 3 RBIs), Dock Doyle 2-6 (2B, 2 RBIs, 3 runs), Rico Noel 2-6 (3 runs), Adam Rice 1-4;
ECU — Ryan Wood 3-3 (HR, RBI, 3 runs), Jamie Ray 3-6 (RBI), Corey Kemp 2-5 (HR, 3 RBIs), Drew Schieber 2-5, (2B, 2 RBIs), Dustin Harrington 2-5 (RBI), Harrison Eldridge 1-4 (2B, 2 RBIs), Kyle Roller 1-4, Brandon Henderson 1-6 (HR, RBI), Stephen Batts 1-5.
At Charles Watson Stadium/Vrooman Field
Conway, S.C.
Friday, May 30
Game 1 — Coastal Carolina 10, Columbia 2
Game 2 — Alabama 16, East Carolina 3
Saturday, May 31
Game 3 — East Carolina 9, Columbia 0
Game 4 — Coastal Carolina 13, Alabama 10
Sunday, June 1
Game 5 — East Carolina 16, Alabama 1
Game 6 — Coastal Carolina 24, East Carolina 11
ECU sets NCAA tourney record for most runs scored
By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
CONWAY, S.C. — ECU pounded Alabama, 16-1, to get to the championship game. It also avenged a 16-3 loss in Friday’s first game.
The 16 runs is the most in an NCAA tournament game by the Pirates, eclipsing ECU’s previous high in a 13-7 win over Elon in the 2002 Clemson Regional.
Jamie Ray, who had career-highs with four hits and six RBIs, hit a three-run home run and Kyle Roller added a two-run blast during ECU’s seven-run third inning, which broke the game wide open. Harrison Eldridge clubbed a three-run shot for good measure.
The Pirates finished with 18 hits.
ECU starter Justin Bristow (9-2), the Conference USA Newcomer of the Year and a transfer from Auburn, was sharp. The junior retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced, and didn’t allow a hit until Alex Avila slapped a single in the fourth. Bristow allowed one run on four hits, while striking out six through seven innings.
Ray’s RBI single in the first made it 1-0, while Ryan Wood, back in the starting lineup after a one-game hiatus, ripped an RBI double in the second to make it 2-0.
ECU sent 10 batters to the plate during the seven-run third. Ray’s three-run shot, his seventh of the season and third of the tournament, gave the Pirates a 9-0 advantage. Roller hit his 12th dinger of the year, while Brandon Henderson had an RBI double and Dustin Harrington brought in a run with a suicide squeeze earlier in the inning.
Eldridge’s three-run homer, his sixth of the season, made it 12-1 in the fifth.
Drew Schieber and Henderson drove in runs in the sixth and seventh innings to make it 14-1, while Ray’s two-run single in the eighth pushed it to 16-1.
Alabama starter Del Howell (1-1), who was knocked out in the third inning, suffered the loss.
The Tide, the No. 3 seed, finished its season with a 35-28 record.
Game 5
ECU 117 031 120 — 16 18 1
Alabama 000 100 000 — 1 5 0
WP: Justin Bristow (9-2); LP: Del Howell (1-1)
Hitters: ECU — Jamie Ray 4-6 (HR, 6 RBIs), Brandon Henderson 3-6 (2B, 2 RBIs), Drew Schieber 3-4 (RBI), Harrison Eldridge 2-5 (HR, 3 RBIs, 3 runs), Kyle Roller 2-4 (HR, 2 RBIs), Stephen Batts 2-3 (2B), Ryan Wood 1-2 (2B, RBI), Dustin Harrington 1-4 (RBI); ALA — Kyle Moore 2-4, Kent Matthes 1-4 (RBI), Alex Avila 1-4, Ross Wilson 1-4.