Strange day for Pirates and Bruins

Published 9:09 am Saturday, March 14, 2009

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — It was a long, wet, cold, strange day for the No. 20 East Carolina Pirates at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Trent Whitehead had a game to remember, and then a partial one he’d like to forget, during college baseball action Friday. Whitehead banged out four hits and drove in four runs, both matching career-highs, but it came in a 10-9 loss to the UCLA Bruins.
He struck out three times against UCLA freshman phenom Gerrit Cole in the second game, which was suspended in the sixth inning with the Bruins leading 5-3.
The teams will resume play, weather permitting, at 9:30 a.m. today. A third game will follow, if possible.
If the teams can’t play today, they’ll try again Sunday.
UCLA (4-11), which swept the Pirates (10-3) in a three-game series in 2007, posted a 10-9 win in the first game. It started out as a doozy and took nearly four hours to play. Both teams batted around, and ECU held a 6-4 lead after one inning of play, which took just over an hour to complete.
ECU All-American Seth Maness (7 runs, 12 hits, 6 strikeouts in five innings) struggled out of the gate as the Bruins sent 10 batters to the plate. Justin Uribe (3-4, 3 RBIs) hit a two-run double, Cody Decker (3-5, 2 HRs, 5 RBIs) slapped an RBI-single and Niko Gallego was plunked in the head with the bases loaded.
The Pirates wasted little time in responding, sending 12 batters to the plate and scoring six times on five hits off UCLA sophomore southpaw Rob Rasmussen.
Whitehead (4-6, 2B, 3B, 4 RBIs) started the uprising with a single, the first of his two hits in the frame to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. It was the second time in six games that the sophomore collected two hits in an inning.
Whitehead’s second hit in the inning, a two-run double down the line in left, gave ECU a 6-4 advantage.
Dustin Harrington (17 games), Stephen Batts (15 games) and Ryan Wood (11 games) all extended their hitting streaks during the uprising.
Whitehead’s two-run triple into right and Wood’s third home run of the season in the third gave the Pirates a 9-4 advantage.
Decker’s two-run laser over the wall in left and Blair Dunlap’s RBI-single pulled the Bruins within 9-7 in the fifth.
Decker hit his second two-run dinger of the game and fifth of the year, this one off reliever Brad Mincey (3-1), and Uribe had a sac fly in the sixth to give UCLA a 10-9 lead.
The UCLA relievers made the lead stand up. Jason Novak (1-1), who gave up two runs on three hits in 3 2/3 innings, got the win. Gavin Brooks, who threw 2 1/3 innings of one-hit ball, earned his first save.
The Pirates finished with double-digit hits (14) for the 13th straight game.
UCLA rallied for a 5-3 lead in the second game, which started with former Major League great Tommy John, who has 288 wins to his credit, throwing out the first pitch.
Cole (1-2), a freshman right hander, had a career-high 12 strikeouts over five innings.
Kyle Roller’s third home run of the year in the second gave ECU a 1-0 lead.
Zach Wright smacked a two-run blast, his second of the year, in the third for a 3-0 advantage.
The Bruins used a five-run fourth, despite getting just one hit, to take a 5-3 lead. Blair Dunlap’s two-run double gave UCLA the lead. ECU starter Chris Heston (2-0) had control problems in the frame, walking three batters, beaning another and uncorking a wild pitch in an ugly inning.
Heston gave up just that one hit and five unearned runs in his 5 1/3 innings of action. The junior struck out five and walked six.