No. 23 ECU rallies to top No. 11 Okla. State
Published 6:26 am Friday, February 27, 2009
By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — Trent Whitehead was all smiles Thursday night, and for good reason.
The sophomore, a former star with the Washington Pam Pack, played a big part in No. 23 East Carolina’s eight-run seventh inning, helping the Pirates rally to a 14-7 victory over the No. 11 Oklahoma State Cowboys.
“This feels pretty awesome,” said Whitehead, who had a career-high four hits to go with three RBIs and two runs scored. “I’m just glad we won.”
If Thursday’s game, played in front of 3,596 fans at Clark-LeClair Stadium, is anything like the 6th Annual Keith LeClair Classic, fans will be in for a treat. The Pirates, storming back from a 7-1 deficit, ripped a season-high 20 hits, including four apiece from Whitehead and Drew Schieber. Stephen Batts and Kyle Roller each collected three.
“The key is, we kept our heads up,” said Schieber about his team’s rally, which included a two-run home run from the senior that put the exclamation point on the win. “We did a good job of putting together a string of really good at-bats and that really helped us get back in the game.”
Freshman Kevin Brandt (1-0) gave the Pirates the chance to rally. The southpaw was brilliant in his Pirate debut, allowing just three hits and fanning seven batters in 6 1-3 innings of relief.
“This is probably the most fun I’ve ever had playing baseball,” Brandt said. “The fans here are amazing and that made my night.”
ECU pulled within 7-2 in the fourth and 7-4 in the fifth.
The Pirates (4-0) batted around and collected seven hits in the eight-run uprising in the seventh, taking the lead for good against the Cowboys (4-1).
Whitehead plated the first two runs with a bases-loaded single, his third hit of the game. Brandon Henderson, Roller and Schieber hit consecutive one-out singles to load the bases.
Facing a full count, Whitehead fouled off three straight pitches before depositing a single into center that scored two runs, pulling the Pirates within 7-6.
“I knew we needed to get the runs in,” Whitehead said. “I was trying to center something up, but once I got two strikes, I was just trying to battle and put something in play and make things happen. I got lucky.”
Dustin Harrington followed with ECU’s fifth straight hit, an RBI-single up the middle that tied the game, 7-7. After Jared Avchen walked to load the bases, pinch-hitter Austin Homan reached on a fielder’s choice, allowing Whitehead to score to give the Pirates an 8-7 lead.
Ryan Wood ripped an RBI-single and Batts, up for the second time in the inning, crushed a three-run homer into center to cap the eight-run uprising, giving the Pirates a 12-7 advantage.
“I felt like in the third inning, we just got sucker-punched,” ECU coach Billy Godwin said. “I couldn’t be any more proud of this crowd. It’s just outstanding.”
The Cowboys built the 7-1 lead on the strength of three home runs, all off ECU starter Sthil Sowers (7 runs, 9 hits in 2 2-3 innings).
Designated hitter Doug Kroll hit a solo shot, the first of his two in the game, to start the second. Dusty Harvard smacked a two-run single later in the inning for a 3-0 lead.
Whitehead, a former standout at Washington High School, had an RBI-single in the bottom half.
Oklahoma State got two-run homers from Kroll and Michael Dabbs in the third to push its lead to 7-1.
Jared Avchen’s single in the fourth scored Whitehead to make it 7-2.
The Pirates pulled within 7-4 in the fifth, chasing Oklahoma State starter Jeff Breedlove (4 runs, 10 hits in 4 2-3 innings) in the process. Henderson’s groundout scored one run and Schieber’s single plated another.
Schieber’s two-run blast into left in the eighth, his second of the year, capped the scoring.
The Pirates will face St. John’s at approximately 12:30 p.m. and Oklahoma State at 4 p.m. in today’s LeClair Classic.