GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU Media Relations) – After Houston won Saturday’s series and doubleheader opener 9-0 in six innings, East Carolina rallied for a 7-6 walkoff victory in the second game to earn a split at the ECU Softball Stadium.
The Pirates move to 21-28 overall and 3-11 in American Athletic Conference play while the Cougars are now 21-25 and 4-7.
A total of four ECU batters recorded a single hit in the first contest while Courtney Klinger was 2-for-2 with a run scored and seven RBI to pace Houston. Junior RHP Lydia Ritchie (11-10) took the loss, surrendering four runs on just two hits with a walk and four strikeouts. Savannah Heebner (6-6) threw a complete-game shutout, scattering just four hits while walking two and striking out five.
In the nightcap, senior shortstop Casey Alcorn was 2-for-5 with a run scored and two RBI while four other East Carolina batters recorded multi-hit efforts. Alcorn and Smith hit their fifth and fourth home runs of the season respectively to give the Pirates a brief lead in the sixth inning. Elise LeBeouf led the Cougars with two hits, two runs scored and two RBI. Freshman Morgan Halo earned the first victory of her collegiate career in the circle, allowing four runs on 10 hits with two walks and a strikeout in 6.2 innings of relief work. Shelby Miller was tagged with the loss for Houston, giving up five runs (four earned) on eight hits with two walks and a strikeout in 4.1 innings pitched.
How it Happened (Game 1): Klinger put the Cougars on top early with a two-run double in the top of the first. She came through again in the top of the third inning with a sacrifice fly that pushed the Houston lead to 3-0. The Pirates had a couple of chances to scratch the scoreboard in the third and fourth frames, but stranded runners at third base in both innings.
Houston was the beneficiary of a trio of wild pitches in the top of the fifth and scored a run to make it 4-0 before Maya Thomas struck out swinging to end the half inning. The Cougars completed the run-rule victory in the top of the sixth, scoring five runs on four hits. Smith walked to lead off the bottom of the sixth, but that was it for the ECU offense.
How it Happened (Game 2): Just as in the first game, Houston jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning after a fielder’s choice play and a sacrifice fly plated Katie St. Pierre and LeBeouf. East Carolina loaded the bases in the bottom of the first after a Ali Ramirez walk, however a liner back to starting pitcher Julana Schrum terminated the threat. ECU broke through in the bottom of the third, plating a pair of runs to tie the score. Sophomore Sloan Bradford delivered a RBI single that scored Smith who drew a one-out walk. Then, senior outfielder Meredith Mitchell poked an infield single to short that drove in Ramirez.
The Cougars answered back in the top of the fifth with a LeBeouf RBI single and Klinger run-scoring double that put the visitors ahead 4-2. Smith would limit the damage by turning a gorgeous unassisted double play to end the half inning. A throwing error on a fielder’s choice play with sophomore Rebecca Perrell at the dish scored Ramirez who had led off the home half with a single up the middle. With the score at 4-3, ECU threatened for more but two fly ball outs would limit the Pirates to just one run.
East Carolina secured its first lead of the day in the bottom of the sixth as consecutive one-out home runs by Alcorn and Smith gave ECU a 5-4 advantage. With Houston down to its last at bats, Klinger singled up the middle to lead off and Heebner followed with a double to put two runners into scoring position. Heebner would score on a passed ball and Shrum doubled to left center to put the Cougars ahead 6-5 going to the bottom of the seventh.
Junior infielder Megan Quick flied out to right field before Mitchell singled through the right side. Junior outfielder Ciara Ervin then laced a double down the right field line and Mitchell would reach third before scoring on the play thanks to a fielding error by LeBeouf. Junior catcher Kelsi Briggs flied out to left field for the second out, bringing up Alcorn. She would single up the middle and Ervin scored from second after the throw from center was wide of home plate to seal the victory for the Pirates.
Bits and Pieces: Houston now leads the all-time series by a 30-16 count, including a 12-9 mark in games played in Greenville … The Pirates are 6-11 at the ECU Softball Stadium this campaign heading into tomorrow’s home finale … Ervin extended her current hitting streak to seven games and has reached base safely in 15-straight contests … Smith and Alcorn now lead the team with 13 multi-hit games apiece … East Carolina upped its 2016 home run total to 33 – the second most by any AAC team … ECU earned its third walkoff win of the campaign and eighth come-from-behind victory … The Pirates tallied 12 hits in the second contest, marking the 11th time this season they have racked up double-digit base knocks … East Carolina has posted an extra-base hit in 11-straight games.
Up Next: The Pirates and Cougars will play the rubber game of the series Sunday at 11 a.m. ECU will honor its four-member senior class on the field before the contest.