Pirates, Maness shut down Owls

Published 2:41 pm Sunday, April 12, 2009

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — Seth Maness certainly lived up to his All-American billing. The sophomore fired a complete-game, three-hit game in leading the No. 14 East Carolina Pirates to a 4-1 victory over the top-ranked Rice Owls.
Maness (4-0), who retired 20 of 21 batters at one point, needed just 100 pitches in disposing of the Owls, who took a 15-11 win over the Pirates a night earlier. The sophomore allowed an unearned run, struck out eight and walked one in the first complete game of his career.
The Pirates (26-8, 9-2), who snapped a three-game skid and moved one game ahead of Rice (24-8, 8-3) for first place in the C-USA standings, earned their first-ever win against a top-ranked team.
ECU’s second error in as many innings allowed Rice to take a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Jimmy
Comerota reached on a throwing error by second baseman Ryan Wood. After Ryan Lewis drew a walk, Steven Sultzbaugh slapped a two-out, RBI-single into right field.
Maness got into a groove following that hit, retiring 20 of the next 21 batters he faced until Diego Seastrunk slapped a one-out single in the ninth.
The Pirates took a 2-1 lead in the fourth. Stephen Batts led off with a single up the middle. Kyle Roller was beaned for the 15th time this season and the 29th time in his career, which set a new school record. Brandon Henderson reached on an error to load the bases.
Devin Harris hit a bouncer to third baseman Anthony Rendon, who stepped on the bag for a force out and then threw home to get the lead runner, Batts, for the second out of the inning. Drew Schieber came through with a double into left, scoring Henderson with the tying run. Dustin Harrington followed by beating out an infield hit, plating Harris for the 2-1 advantage.
Whitehead’s RBI-single in the seventh gave the Pirates a 3-1 lead. Harrington and Jared Avchen ripped consecutive one-out singles. Whitehead followed by lacing a single into center, easily scoring Harrington to give ECU a two-run cushion.
Batts clobbered his team-leading ninth home run of the season to start the eighth, giving ECU a 4-1 lead and chasing Rice starter Taylor Wall (4-2). The freshman left-hander gave up the four runs (two earned) on eight hits while striking out nine over seven innings.
Maness finished off his gem in the ninth, getting Comerota to bounce out to short to end the game, which took just one hour, 53 minutes to complete.
The teams conclude the series with today’s 11 a.m. game.