Pirates slam the Eagles|Could reach title game with a win today

Published 7:36 pm Friday, May 28, 2010

By Staff
Staff, C-USA Reports
HOUSTON — One day after dropping a lopsided decision to the regular-season league champion, sixth-seeded East Carolina bounced back in a big way to defeat No. 2 seed Southern Miss 8-1 to open day two of the 2010 Conference USA Baseball Championship Thursday afternoon at the University of Houston’s Cougar Field.
The Pirates got the job done both at the plate and on the mound as left fielder Devin Harris went 2-for-3 with a pair of home runs and a career-high five RBIs while Seth Maness fanned eight in a solid 7.2 inning start. Harris was one of four East Carolina players to post multiple-hit performances as shortstop John Wooten went 3-for-5 while third baseman Corey Thompson and designated hitter Austin Homan tallied two hits apiece.
With the win, East Carolina improves to 32-26 on the year and can clinch a spot in Saturday’s league championship game with a win tomorrow against Memphis.
Southern Miss dropped to 33-22 for the season with the loss, but can still earn a berth in the C-USA Championship game with a win tomorrow vs. host Houston and a Memphis win over the Pirates.
“I think it sums it up just talking about two different people — Seth Maness and Devin Harris,” ECU coach Billy Godwin said. “We needed a shot in the arm, and Seth certainly came out and pitched his fanny off to be quite honest. Devin Harris set the tone with his first grand slam against a very good Southern Miss team. We came in here and put all our eggs in a basket going into the pool, and we have a good shot winning it Friday.”
Maness had a no-hitter going through five innings before giving up a leadoff double to Southern Miss right fielder Tyler Koelling to open the sixth. The reigning C-USA Pitcher of the Year shook off the bump in the road to remain effective throughout his time toeing the rubber, giving up just one unearned run on five hits and a walk to improve to 10-3. Maness is now 18-3 against C-USA teams during his time with the Pirates and picked up his 28th career win, which ranks fourth all-time in C-USA history and tied for fourth in the ECU career record book.
“I was just trying to go out there and throw strikes and keep the team out of the dugout and let them hit, and that’s what they did,” Maness said. “I just tried to throw strikes; that’s my game plan. I try to hit the corners and luckily everything was working today.”
Harris, meanwhile, went yard in each of his first two at-bats – belting a solo home run in the second to open the scoring and crushing a grand slam in the third to put the Pirates on top, 5-0. Following a scoreless fourth, East Carolina stretched the lead to 8-0 in the fifth courtesy of an RBI-single by Homan, a run-scoring fielder’s-choice groundout off the bat of second baseman Cameron Freeman and a throwing error by the Southern Miss defense.
The Golden Eagles avoided the shutout in the eighth when second baseman Taylor Walker reached on a fielder’s choice, advanced to second on a single by shortstop B.A. Vollmuth and came around to score in an RBI-knock by designated hitter Adam Doleac.
Koelling and centerfielder Dillon Day posted two hits each to lead Southern Miss. Lost in the shuffle of East Carolina’s win was a solid relief effort by Golden Eagles’ hurler Mandella Mingo, who came out of the bullpen to scatter three hits and strike out two in 3.0 scoreless innings.
Southern Miss starter Geoffrey Thomas was tagged with the loss after giving up five runs on four hits and four walks while fanning a pair in 2.1 frames. The Pirates also tagged Cody Schlagel for three runs (two earned) on four hits and a free pass over the next 2.0 innings.
East Carolina’s championship-game deciding contest against Memphis will open day three of the C-USA Championship today at noon. Southern Miss will play the final pod contest of the championship against the Cougars with first pitch of that game slated for 8 p.m.
“We have to win this tournament to get in; and that’s kind of the reason we came in with our pitching plans the way they were,” Godwin said. “To have Seth go out and pitch like he did today was huge for us, but our work’s not done. We have a very good Memphis club, and we have to be ready to play. We just have to get off our feet right now and play tomorrow.”