Rice pitching too much for Pirates

Published 11:45 pm Friday, April 8, 2011

GREENVILLE — Austin Kubitza and Tony Cingrani combined for 18 strikeouts and allowed just four hits as No. 21 Rice (22-12, 5-2) defeated East Carolina (21-9, 3-4) 2-1 Friday night in Conference USA action at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium. For the Owls it was their sixth-straight win over the Pirates dating back to the 2009 season.

Cingrani (1-1) picked up the win after working 3.1 scoreless innings of relief where he struck out seven and allowed a pair of hits, both coming in the ninth inning. Kubitza was impressive in his outing striking out a career-best 11 hitters (all swinging) in 5.2 innings. He allowed two hits, walked three and surrendered the Pirates’ lone run in the sixth inning.

Seth Maness (4-3) was saddled with the loss after giving up a pair of runs (both earned) on 10 hits (all singles) with eight strikeouts. He issued just two walks, both intentional to the 2010 National Player-of-the-Year Anthony Rendon. Brad Mincey (H, BB, 2 K), Jake Harris (2 BB, K) and Seth Simmons (K) worked 2.1 scoreless innings of relief and combined for four punch outs.

Rice took an early 1-0 lead in the first frame when Michael Ratterree singled to left field scoring J.T. Chargois from second base. Chargois reached on an infield single to short and moved into scoring position on Rendon’s single to short putting runners on first and second for Ratterree.

ECU had a great chance to knot the game at one in the fourth when they had runners on first and second with one out. Trent Whitehead, who led the Pirates with two hits, singled to left field and took second when Zach Wright was hit by a pitch. Kubitza promptly struck out John Wooten and Jack Reinheimer to end ECU’s threat. Early in Reinheimer’s at-bat, the true freshman laced a 1-1 offering down the left field line where Rice third baseman Shane Hoelscher looked to have touched the ball in fair territory, but the ball was called foul by the home plate umpire, resulting in a 1-2 count and Reinheimer eventually went down swinging to end the frame.

The Pirates finally pushed a run across in the sixth tying the game at one when Reinheimer reached on an error scoring Whitehead. With two outs in the stanza, Whitehead collected his second hit of the night on an infield single to second. Wright and Wooten both followed with walks loading the bases for Reinheimer, who sent a shot deep in the hole to second where Ratterree made a great play defensively and threw a strike over to first, but Chargois was unable to hold onto the ball allowing Whitehead to score.

Rice answered with a run in the seventh on Michael Fuda’s single to left that pushed across Ryan Lewis for 2-1 advantage. Lewis led off the inning with an infield single and took second on Kennan Cook’s sac bunt shortly before Rendon’s second intentional walk of the game setting up Fuda’s game-winning hit.

In the ninth with two outs, the Pirates made it interesting collecting back-to-back singles from Chase McDonald and Drew Reynolds before Mike Ussery was called out on strikes to end the game.

The Pirates will look to even the series Saturday afternoon when the two teams return to the diamond at 3 p.m. (EST). ECU will send junior Mike Wright (4-1, 2.41 ERA) to the hill against Matthew Reckling (3-0, 1.82) ERA.