Roller’s single lifts Pirates

Published 4:37 pm Wednesday, April 22, 2009

By Staff
ECU Sports Information
GREENVILLE — Junior designated hitter Kyle Roller’s single up the middle in the bottom of the ninth lifted No. 24 East Carolina to a 10-9 win over Elon Tuesday night at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium. With the win the Pirates improve to 29-12 whole the Phoenix drop to 24-13.
Heading into the bottom of the ninth trailing 9-8, Dustin Harrington led off with a single through the left side to start the Pirate rally. Jared Avchen pushed the count full and was plunked by a Thomas Girdwood pitch on the hand to move Harrington, the tying run, into scoring position. After Broc Sutton pinch ran for Avchen, both runners moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch putting the go ahead run on second.
Trent Whitehead followed with an intentional walk to load the bases for Ryan Wood, who popped up to first base for the first out of the frame. Brandon Henderson extended his current hitting streak to seven games with a bloop RBI single to left that plated Harrington, knotting the game at nine. Roller, who already had two hits in the game including a three-run shot back in the sixth, stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and pushed across Sutton from third for his third game-winning hit of the season.
Seth Simmons (2-1) got an unconventional win after allowing the potential go ahead run come across in the top half of the ninth. The sophomore closer allowed two runs on one hit with a pair of walks, one of them intentional. ECU starter Patrick Somers was touched for five runs on three hits in 1 2/3 innings of work in his second career start. The left-hander walked two and fanned a pair of batters before being lifted for Bailey Daniels in the second inning. Daniels, who fanned Pat Irvine to close the second inning, went 3 1/3 innings allowing one run on three hits with two strikeouts and one walk. Freshman Mike Wright made his 11th appearance of the year going two innings where he surrendered one run with a pair of strikeouts. Chris Heston made his first relief appearance of the season working a scoreless eighth surrendering one hit and striking out one.
Girdwood dropped to 0-2 on the year after allowing two runs on three hits in one-third of an inning. Starter Tom Porter went five innings holding the Pirates to four runs (three earned) on nine hits with four strikeouts and one walk. The Phoenix used three pitchers to bridge the gap between Porter and Girdwood with Jared Kernodle (0.1 IP, 2 runs, 2 walks), J.D. Reichenbach (1.1 IP, 2 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk) and Jordan Darnell (1.1 IP, 1 walk, 1 strikeout) combining to pitch three innings.
Simmons entered the game in the ninth looking for his seventh save of the year but was denied when Elon took a 9-8 led thanks to a bases loaded two-out two-RBI double to right-center off the bat of Dallas Tarleton that pushed across the tying and potential game-winning run. Chase Austin reached on an error to start the inning then took second on Pat Irvine’s walk. After Bennett Davis moved both runners into scoring position on a sac bunt, Simmons intentionally walked Mike Melillo to load the bases. Neal Pritchard recorded the second out when he popped out to Henderson, setting up Tarleton’s lone hit of the evening.
Elon struck first to start the game when Irvine doubled down the right field line scoring Cory Harrilchak from first. Harrilchak, who has reached base safely in 70 straight games, drew a one-out walk before touching home on Irvine’s at-bat.
Back-to-back home runs by Harrilchak and Austin highlighted a five-run second inning for the Phoenix, pushing their lead to 6-0. Pritchard drew a one-out walk then took second when Scott Riddle was plunked by a Somers pitch putting runners at first and second. Justin Hilt singled to left-center scoring Pritchard before Harrilchak connected on the first of two home runs on the night, a three-run shot to right. Austin capped the scoring with a solo shot left, his 13th of the season and 10th in his last 11 games.
ECU finally pushed a run across in the fourth cutting the lead to five, 6-1. Harrington reached on an error by Pritchard then took third on Avchen’s single to center. Whitehead drove in the first of his two runs on his second base knock of the night scoring Harrington on a single up the middle.
Harrington’s three-run double in the fifth pulled the Pirates within two, 6-4, in the bottom of the fifth inning. Roller started the rally with a single through the right side then was moved over to second when Stephen Batts was hit by a Porter pitch. Austin Homan, who entered the game in the fourth, followed with a single up the middle to load the bases for Harrington’s bases clearing double to right field, all with two outs.
Harrilchak smacked his second home run of the contest to right field extending the Phoenix lead to 7-4 in the sixth frame.
Roller knotted the game at seven in the sixth on a three-run shot to center field scoring Wood and Henderson. Whitehead and Wood recorded back-to-back walks before Henderson reached on a fielder’s choice, where Whitehead was tagged out at third. After a double-steal and a Elon pitching change, Roller tattooed a full-count fast ball over the scoreboard for his 11th homer of the season and 34th of his career.
ECU took the lead in the seventh inning on Whitehead’s sac fly to left that plated Drew Schieber from third for an 8-7 lead. Schieber started the frame with a double to right-center then took third on an Avchen sac bunt before touching home on Whitehead’s at-bat.
The Pirates return to the diamond tonight when the play host to top-ranked North Carolina with a first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m.