No. 17 Pirates power past Bearcats|Whitehead, Harris and Harrington homer in win

Published 11:20 pm Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sports Editor

GREENVILLE — Trent Whitehead must be a morning person. The East Carolina sophomore blasted the first pitch he saw over the fence in left-center field for a quick 1-0 lead Saturday morning.
The early jolt, coming in front of a boisterous crowd at Clark-LeClair Stadium, propelled the top-seed Pirates (43-17) to an 11-7 victory over the fourth-seed Binghamton Bearcats (29-21) during the 2009 Greenville Regional. The teams played in the morning after seeing Friday’s scheduled game get postponed because of severe weather.
Whitehead’s shot was the first leadoff homer by an ECU batter since May 23, 2008, when Harrison Eldridge went yard in a 2-1 loss to Houston during the Conference USA Tournament.
“I had my mind set that there was one pitch I was looking for,” Whitehead said. “If I didn’t get it, I was going to take it. It was a good pitch to hit and, luckily, I made contact with it.
“I was just trying to get something started on our side. I felt like that was a good way to start it.”
Whitehead’s seventh home run of the season, which extended the former Washington Pam Pack star’s hitting streak to 13 games, got the No. 17 Pirates off to a hot start and set the early tone. Devin Harris and Dustin Harrington also went deep for the Pirates, who built an early 7-0 lead and then held off a late charge.
“I’m very proud of our effort,” ECU coach Billy Godwin said. “I thought we jumped out early and kind of held off late.
“We’ve been waiting since last Sunday for the first pitch, and the first pitch got delayed. I give these guys a lot of credit. They came out with a lot of intensity and put some runs on the board early.”
Stephen Batts followed Whitehead’s blast with a one-out double. The senior stole third and then trotted home on a balk call against Binghamton pitcher Murphy Smith (7-3), giving ECU a 2-0 lead after one inning.
The Pirates never trailed again, though the Bearcats did make a rally.
“I’m really happy, obviously, with the way our guys competed in the last two-thirds of the game,” Binghamton coach Tim Sinicki said. “I think we came out on the big stage and were maybe overwhelmed a bit.”
Harris (2-for-3) made it 3-0 in the second with his 13th blast of the year, a two-out shot into left.
Harrington’s three-run smash, his 13th of the year, highlighted a four-run third inning that gave the Pirates a 7-0 lead. Ryan Wood (2-for-5) laced a double and the senior scored on Brandon Henderson’s single. Kyle Roller, who was plunked for the 22nd time this season, and Henderson scored on Harrington’s homer.
“I had two strikes and I was just trying to put the ball in play,” Harrington said. “I was just trying to make contact.”
Joe Charron’s two-run homer in the fourth, his sixth, got the Bearcats on the scoreboard.
The Pirates responded with four runs in the bottom half, taking an 11-2 lead. Roller’s two-run single was the key blow. Whitehead (2-for-4, 2 runs, 2 RBIs) smoked an RBI single and he later scored on an error to account for the other two runs.
That ended the day for Smith (11 runs, 8 earned, 9 hits, 3 1/3 innings).
The Bearcats, playing in their first NCAA Regional, looked to rally. Corey Taylor (3-for-4) hit a two-run, bases-loaded double and Dave Ciocchi followed with an RBI single to make it 11-5.
It also chased ECU starter Chris Heston, who allowed six runs on 10 hits in five innings.
Charron (3-for-4, 2 HRs, 4 RBIs) greeted ECU reliever Bailey Daniels (2-2) with a single that produced another run, pulling Binghamton within 11-6.
“I just wanted to minimize the damage,” Daniels said. “I wanted to get us back in the dugout without too much damage.”
Charron’s second homer of the game made it 11-7 in the seventh.
“Everybody in our lineup is a good hitter,” Charron said. “I had a great day, but everybody in front of me and behind me did their job, too. We just came up a little short today.”
Daniels, who allowed a run on three hits in four innings, was credited with the victory.
Brad Mincey closed it out for the Pirates.
ECU went on to play South Carolina in the evening, while Binghamton faced George Mason in an elimination game.