ECU hangs on to beat Eagles
Published 5:26 pm Saturday, April 25, 2009
ECU Sports Information
GREENVILLE — No. 24 East Carolina thwarted a Southern Miss ninth inning rally to walk away with a 7-6 win in the Conference USA series opener Friday night at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium. With the win ECU improves to 31-12 overall and 11-5 in league play, while Southern Miss drops to 25-16 and 9-7.
Sophomore Seth Simmons entered the game in the ninth inning with runners on the corners and two outs trying to hold on to a 7-5 lead. After Simmons fanned Corey Stevens for the second out, Joey Archer singled to left pushing across Bo Davis, cutting the lead to one, 7-6. Simmons picked up his seventh save of the season, preserving the Pirates third win of the week when he got Josh Fields to line out to Ryan Wood at second.
Chris Heston (6-0) got the win after going 6 2/3 innings here he allowed three runs on seven hits with six strikeouts and three walks. Brad Mincey entered the game in the seventh working 1 2/3 innings allowing three runs on four hits before giving way to Simmons to close out the ninth.
J.R. Ballinger (4-1) gave up seven runs on seven hits in four innings to drop his first game of the season. Jeff Stanley and Moses Munoz combined to work 2 1/3 innings of relief before Jonathan Johnston entered the game in the eighth with one man down.
Austin Homan’s two-out two RBI single up the middle put the Pirates up 3-0 in the first inning. Ryan Wood drew an opening frame walk then took second when Stephen Batts reached on a fielder’s choice to third that was dropped by James Ewing in a double-play effort. Brandon Henderson loaded the bases with a one-out walk before Devin Harris plated the first run on a sac fly scoring Wood. After a double steal by Batts and Henderson, Homan laced a shot back up the middle clearing the bases.
Wood and Batts roped back-to-back two-out doubles to extend ECU’s lead to 4-0 in the second inning. For Wood it was his 43rd career two-bagger and it was Batts’ 48th career double.
ECU scored twice in the third pushing the lead to 6-0. Henderson and Harris recorded back-to-back singles before Homan laid down a sac bunt that forced Henderson out at third. Dustin Harrington singled through the left side scoring Harris before Homan touched home on Drew Schieber’s sac bunt.
Henderson added to the Pirates lead in the fourth with a sac fly to left that scored Batts, who walked with one out, for a 7-0 lead.
Southern Miss put a three-spot on the board in the sixth inning with two outs to cut the lead to 7-3. Kameron Brunty reached on a fielding error by Homan that started the two-out rally. Stevens promptly followed with a double to right center that scored Brunty for the first run of the frame. Fields followed Joey Archer’s single with one of his own that scored Stevens. Travis Graves made it four base hits in a row with a single up the middle that pushed across Archer for the final run of the frame.
The Golden Eagles led off with back-to-back singles putting runners on first and third for Fields who popped up to short. Adam Doleac pinch hit for Graves and grounded out to Mincey pushing across Stevens to draw the score to three, 7-4.
A throwing error by Harrington and hits by Davis and Brunty in the eighth pulled Southern Miss within one, 7-5, before Simmons made his 22nd appearance of the year from the bullpen.
Offensively, eight of ECU’s nine batters recorded a hit on the night, while Homan was the only Pirate to drive in multiple runs.
The two teams will play a doubleheader today with the first game scheduled to start at 4:05 p.m. and the second at 8:05 p.m. to accommodate CBS College Sports broadcast.