East Carolina falls to Wolfpack in error-fest|Teams combine for 12 miscues

Published 12:09 pm Thursday, April 22, 2010

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Edito
Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — The No. 21 East Carolina Pirates have been able to overcome an error here or there. But the Pirates couldn’t overcome six errors in Wednesday’s 8-6 loss to the N.C. State Wolfpack.
The game, played in front of 3,809 fans at Clark-LeClair Stadium, was certainly not a thing of beauty. The Wolfpack (26-13) committed six errors as well, but used a three-run eighth to overcome ECU (24-14).
The Pirates, who have dropped two straight, have committed 19 errors in the last four games. They have made at least four errors in four consecutive games, and at least one error in 13 straight.
“This is as frustrated as I’ve ever been,” a befuddled ECU coach Billy Godwin said. “I’ve coached this game a long time. It has to be a confidence issue.
“I still believe in these guys and believe we have good players, but I’ve seen teams go in the tank offensively, I’ve seen teams not be able to pitch, but I’ve never quite seen anything like this defensively. Defensively, we’ve set the game back 20 years.”
The Wolfpack, which has won four straight, went up 8-5 in the top of the eighth. State smacked three doubles and took advantage of an ECU error in the inning.
John Gianis followed Chris Schaeffer’s double with one of his own for a 6-5 lead. Chris Diaz hit a bloop single for a two-run advantage. Drew Poulk’s RBI double pushed the lead to 8-5.
All the runs came off ECU reliever Shawn Armstrong (0-2).
Kyle Roller (1-4, HR, RBI), who has reached safely in all 37 games he’s played in this season, had tied the game at 5-5 in the seventh. Roller’s two-out solo blast came on a 3-2 pitch.
It was the senior’s ninth of the season and the 48th of his career, which moved him into second on ECU’s all-time list. (Winfred Johnson holds the record with 70 homers hit from 1983-86).
The bulky first baseman is more concerned with his team’s fielding than any power numbers at the moment.
“We just have to minimize the errors,” Roller said. “We can’t let one error turn into three of four. We just have to keep grinding it out and pick each other up.”
The Pirates had to play from behind early.
The Wolfpack took a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI single by Drew Poulk (3-5, 2B, 2 RBIs). He drove in Dallas Poulk (2-4), who led off the game with a single.
Gianis (2-5, 2B, 2 RBIs) slapped an RBI single in the fourth to give State a 2-0 lead.
The Pirates got on the scoreboard in the bottom half on Zach Wright’s sac fly.
ECU took the lead with a three-run fifth thanks to some shoddy Wolfpack defense. Jared Avchen reached on an error to start the rally. Trent Whitehead (1-4, 2B) walked and Corey Thompson was safe on another error to load the bases. Avchen raced home on a wild pitch, Whitehead scored on a John Wooten groundout and Austin Homan’s (1-3, RBI) single brought home Thompson for a 4-2 advantage.
Chris Schaffer’s groundout pulled State within 4-3 in the sixth.
Pratt Maynard’s two-run shot in the seventh gave the Wolfpack a 5-4 lead. Matt Bergquist reached on a throwing error by ECU starter Brad Mincey (four runs, two earned, seven hits, four strikeouts in six innings) to start the seventh, which ended the pitcher’s night.
Maynard’s home run, his seventh of the year, off reliever Jake Harris gave the Wolfpack the lead.
The Wolfpack held an 8-5 lead late in the game. ECU made it an 8-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, and had a chance for more.
Wright led off with a single and he scored when Avchen reached on an error. Thompson walked and Roller was issued a free pass that loaded the bases with two outs. Wooten, ECU’s clean-up hitter, flew out to right to end the threat.
Thompson, who played an error-free game at third base, said it’s important that the Pirates relax heading into this weekend’s important Conference USA series at Rice.
“We have to go in there with a little bit of a swagger because we have something to prove,” Thompson said. “I think we need to have a little more fun and just get out there and relax. I think everybody is playing uptight right now, including me.”
ECU used four pitchers in the game. Mike Wright was effective, tossing 1 2/3 innings of one-hit ball in relief.
State used seven pitchers. Mike Russo (1-0), who recorded just one out, got the win. Grant Sasser, who pitched 1 2/3 innings of hitless ball, earned the save.
Wolfpack starter Felix Roque allowed just one hit in his three innings of work.
The Pirates return to Conference USA play this weekend at the Rice. The two teams are currently tied for first place atop the conference standings. ECU sits at 6-3 in conference play, while Rice is 8-4.
Starting times are set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Saturday’s game will be on CBS CS.