ECU softball falls to UNC

Published 10:02 pm Tuesday, March 13, 2012

CHAPEL HILL —  In the first meeting between rivals East Carolina and North Carolina since 2009, the Tar Heels (18-7) got the upper hand with a 4-2 victory over the Pirates (10-14) Tuesday afternoon at Anderson Stadium. The game’s only runs were via home runs as UNC’s Constance Orr and Logan Foulks each hit a two-run home run and ECU seniors Suzanne Riggs and Priscilla Velasquez hit solo shots. North Carolina pitcher Lori Spingola struck out nine, five looking, in the complete-game effort.
Freshman Sarah Christian (8-8) suffered the loss for the Pirates, surrendering five hits, three in the bottom of the second inning and two in the sixth. The Greenville product retired the Tar Heels in order in the other four frames. She struck out one and did not issue a walk in the complete game. Spingola (12-6) also allowed five hits and issued two free passes over seven innings.
After both teams were sent down in order in the first inning, East Carolina tallied the game’s first base runner in the second inning as Riggs drew a walk. Velasquez put down her Conference USA-leading seventh sacrifice bunt of the campaign to advance Riggs to second. Riggs moved to third on a Spingola illegal pitch, but a pair of strikeouts looking kept the Pirates off the scoreboard.
North Carolina put together a two-out rally in the bottom of the second to take a 2-0 lead. A strikeout and foul out started the inning, but Amber Parrish doubled to left center for the first hit of the contest and Orr followed with a two-run home run to left field.
The Pirates got a run back in the top of the fourth as Riggs hit her team-leading fourth home run of the season off the scoreboard in left center with one out.
Spingola tallied a strikeout before issuing a walk to sophomore Jordan Lewis. A pop out to shallow right field ended the inning.
ECU had another chance to score in the top of the fifth but failed to convert. With one out, junior Kai Clark singled to center field and was replaced by sophomore pinch runner Rebecca Lee. A lineout to Paige Williams at shortstop by sophomore Jill Jelnick left Lee on first base with two down. Sophomore Kristi Oshiro singled through the right side to put runners on first and second, but Spingola recorded a pop out to strand the pair.
In the top of the sixth, the Pirates’ second home run of the day knotted the game at 2-2. A fly out started the frame, but Velasquez hit her first home run of the season on a line drive to center field. Lewis followed with a single to center field.
After a strikeout, Lewis stole second base. Spingola avoided further damage with her second whiff of the frame.
UNC regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth with Foulks’ two-run home run to make it the 4-2 final. Kelli Wheeler led off with a double to right center and was replaced by pinch runner Tisha Mahon. A sacrifice bunt moved Mahon to third base and Foulks’ home run made it a two-run advantage. Christian rebounded with a pop out and groundout to close the inning.
Spingola sent down ECU in order in the seventh to seal the victory.
East Carolina begins Conference USA action this weekend with a three-game series at defending league regular season co-champion Tulsa (16-6, 2-1 C-USA). The teams play a doubleheader Saturday starting at 2:00 p.m. ET and finish Sunday with a 1:00 p.m. clash.