No. 23 Pirates crown Knights

Published 10:22 am Saturday, March 21, 2009

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — Kyle Roller and his East Carolina Pirates had their way with the UCF Knights in the Conference USA opener.
Roller blasted home runs in the fifth and seventh innings during his career-high five-hit performance, and the No. 23 Pirates used three huge innings to demolish the Knights, 26-1, Friday night at Clark-LeClair Stadium. The victory, coming in front of 2,836 fans, was the fourth straight for the Pirates, and the second straight in which ECU scored 26 runs.
The 25-run margin of victory was the second highest in ECU history. The largest margin was 26 runs (26-0) against William &Mary in 1987.
The 25-run loss was the worst in UCF’s history (previous worst was 27-3 to Miami in 1978). Roller had plenty to do with that.
Roller, who tied Jake Smith for 10th on the all-time career-list with his 29th home run, added a two-run single in the sixth and an RBI-single in the first.
Roller, who took the team-lead with his fifth and sixth homers of the season, was just one of the hitting stars Friday night. Eleven different players had at least one hit, and 11 different players scored a run.
Devin Harris (4-for-6) homered and drove in four, Drew Schieber (3-for-4) drove in a career-high five runs, Ryan Wood (3-for-4) scored four times, Dustin Harrington (3-for-4) scored three times and drove in two, Stephen Batts (3-for-7) scored three times and Jared Avchen knocked in three during ECU’s 26-hit barrage.
The Pirates (14-4, 1-0 C-USA) broke the game wide open with five runs in the third, six runs in the fourth and seven runs in the sixth. UCF (7-13, 0-1 C-USA) didn’t help itself as the Knights committed five errors.
ECU starter Chris Heston (3-0) was the beneficiary of the onslaught. The junior scattered seven hits over seven innings, striking out five and walking one.
ECU sent nine batters to the plate against UCF starter Kyle Sweat (2-2) in the third, taking a 7-1 lead. Schieber’s two-run single was the big blow.
The Pirates sent 10 batters to the plate in the fourth, chasing Sweat (11 runs, 8 hits in 3 innings) and going up 13-1 in the process. Schieber again had the big hit, smacking a two-run double down the right field line. Batts and Harrington laced RBI-doubles, while Avchen had his second sac fly in as many innings.
Eleven Pirates went to bat in the sixth. Harris hit a three-run homer, his second of the year, to highlight the uprising.
Broc Sutton’s two-run double and Batts’ run-scoring double in the eighth capped off the scoring.
Jake Huxtable’s run-scoring single in the third was the only offense for the Knights.
ECU will throw Seth Maness (1-0) in today’s game, slated to begin at 3 p.m. UCF will counter with Caleb Graham (1-0).
The teams will conclude the series with Sunday’s 10:30 a.m., which caps ECU’s 10-game homestand. Mike Anderson (0-0) will start for the Pirates.