When you think of signature come from behind wins in East Carolina baseball history, Pirate fans will always bring up the 10-9 victory over South Carolina in the Greenville Regional Final on June 1, 2009. But in 2011, the most exciting game of the year was undoubtedly the series opener at Houston on April 21, where the Pirates topped the Cougars 5-4 in 12 innings.
Four consecutive two-out hits in the ninth inning and a RBI single from Trent Whitehead in the top of the 12th gave ECU a 5-4 come from behind victory over Houston at Cougar Field.
With the score knotted at four in the top of the 12th inning, ECU took a 5-4 lead when Whitehead singled home Jack Reinheimer from second base with a base knock to left field. Reinheimer walked to start the frame and moved into scoring position when Corey Thompson laid down a sac bunt back to the pitcher Dakota Dill for the first out of the inning. Whitehead, who collected a game-best three hits, drilled 1-0 offering to left center scoring Reinheimer for the go-ahead run.
Houston had a chance to tie the game in the bottom half of the frame when Joel Ansley reached on a throwing error by Reinheimer on a ball hit deep at short that pulled John Wooten off the bag putting runners at the corners with two outs. But Seth Simmons closed the door on a possible Cougar rally striking out Landon Appling for the final out of the game.
Down to its last out and trailing 4-1 in the ninth, ECU collected four straight base hits to tie the game at four. Chase McDonald smoked his second home run of the season, first Youngstown State on Feb. 20, sending a 0-1 offering to left field pulling ECU within two, 4-2. Philip Clark followed with a single deep in the hole behind second base and Jonathan Holt laced a pinch-hit single through the left side putting runners on first and second. Ben Fultz followed with a game tying two-RBI triple to right center that hit off the top of the wall just below the scoreboard plating both Clark and Holt.
Simmons improved to 5-1 on the season after making his 18th appearance of the year. The NCBWA Stopper-of-the-Year Watch List candidate tossed three scoreless innings of relief allowing one hits and striking out five. Starter Mike Wright worked a career-best 9.0 innings where he surrendered four runs (three earned) on six hits with seven strikeouts and one walk.
Dill (0-2) took the loss allowing after working two-third of an inning allowing a run (earned) on no hits and a walk. Houston starter Jared Ray went four innings in his first start in nearly a year giving up a run (earned) on three hits with one strikeout. Matt Creel, who made his 15th appearance of the year, was touched for three runs (all earned) on 10 hits with four strikeouts. Dustin Fuerst faced two batters recording an out and a walk, while Chase Wellbrock closed out the contest surrendering one hit in one full innings of relief.
The Pirates jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the third when Tim Younger ground out to second scoring McDonald, who doubled off the batters eye in center to start the frame. Clark moved McDonald to third on a perfect sac bunt down the first base line.
Houston tied the game at one on a Mike Wright wild pitch in the fifth inning. John Cannon singled through the left side to start the stanza and took second on Creel's sac bunt and third on Codey Morehouse's fly ball to center. Cannon would cross home on a wild pitch that catcher Zach Wright couldn't locate around his feet tying the game at one.
In the sixth, Houston took a 4-1 lead thanks to four consecutive hits including a two-RBI double by M.P. Cokinos. Ryan Still singled to center with one out, Caleb Ramsey followed with a single through the right side and Chase Jensen loaded the bases with an infield single behind the bag at second, where Younger made a sensational diving play to keep the ball from going to center. Cokinos lifted a 1-2 offering down the left field line where Fultz was unable to handle the ball on the hop clearing the bases for the Cougars.
Offensively the Pirates doubled up the Cougars on hits, 14-7, and recorded their fifth-straight multi-hit game. Seven of nine batters collected at least one hit on the night with Whitehead leading the way going 3-for-6. Clark, Fultz and McDonald added two hits each, while five others had a base knock including two pinch hit singles.
Top 11 Moments of the 2011 Baseball Season
2. ECU's 5-4 come from behind win in 12 innings at Houston (April 21, 2011)
3. Seth Maness' complete game shutout against No. 19 Southern Miss (May 27, 2011)
4. ECU's 10th inning come from behind win at Marshall (May 6, 2011)
5. Corey Thompson's two RBI double lifts ECU past Tulane at C-USA Tournament (May 26, 2011)
6. Seth Maness' complete game shutout against Pepperdine (Mar. 4, 2011)
7. Austin Homan becomes first two-time recipient of the honorary No. 23 jersey
8. Kevin Brandt strikes out 12 against Rutgers (Mar. 20, 2011)
9. Zach Wright's three game-winning home runs
10. ECU scores 20 runs on 20 hits against UNCW (Mar. 29, 2011)
11. Seth Simmons becomes ECU's all-time saves leader (Mar. 19, 2011)