ECU Takes Series Opener At Rice, 3-2

UABSPORTS.COM Senior Drew Reynolds
Senior Drew Reynolds

April 4, 2014

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HOUSTON, Texas - Drew Reynolds' two-out single up the middle in the ninth scored a pair of runs lifting East Carolina to a Conference USA series opening win over No. 12 Rice, 3-2, Friday night at Reckling Park.

With the game knotted at one-all heading to the ninth, ECU (18-12, 7-3 C-USA) sent seven batters to the plate scoring a pair of two out runs to take its first lead of the contest. Charlie Yorgen was hit by a Matt Ditman pitch to start the inning and moved into scoring position on Garrett Brooks sac bunt. Eric Tyler reached when he as hit by another Ditman pitch with one out and Hunter Allen loaded the bases with a single to shallow left field. After Dylan Brown popped up to short on an infield fly, Reynolds delivered with a shot back up the middle plating Yorgen from third and Tyler from second for a 3-1 advantage.

Rice (21-11, 9-4) made it interesting in the bottom half of the ninth pushing across a run, which cut the lead to 3-2. Shane Hoelscher and Connor Teykl laced consecutive singles off Ryan Williams setting up Michael Aquino's sac bunt that moved both runners into scoring position. Ford Stainback ground out to Allen at short for the second out, which allowed Hoelscher to score, pulling within one. Williams closed the game notching his third save when he got Blake Fox to ground out back to the mound on a high chopper, giving ECU its first opening series win against Rice since 2006 - the Owls first year in Conference USA.

Jeff Hoffman (2-3) was impressive on the night allowing one run (earned) on seven hits in eight innings of work. The right-hander, who punched out seven Owls and walked one, recorded at least one strikeout in six of eight frames with two coming in the eighth stanza. After allowing his lone run in the fifth, Hoffman retired 10 of the final 11 batters he faced - four via strikeout - before turning the game over to Williams to start the ninth. Williams worked the ninth facing five batters where he gave up one run (earned) on two hits.

Ditman (2-4) suffered the loss allowing a pair of runs (both earned) on two hits with a walk and one strikeout in 2.1 innings of relief. Starter Zech Lemond scattered four hits over 6.2 innings with four punch-outs, two walks and surrendered one run (earned) before leaving the game with an injury.

Rice broke the scoreless tie in the fifth on Kennan Cook's RBI single up the middle. Fox got the inning started when he singled to right center with two outs. John Williamson and Cook followed with consecutive base hits back up the middle with Cook's knock scoring Fox from second.

The Pirates knotted the game at one-all in the sixth on Ian Townsend's base hit down the left field line. Allen started the frame when he was hit by a pitch and quickly moved to second on Dylan Brown's sac bunt. Reynolds followed with the second of is three hits before Zach Houchins reached on a fielder's choice putting runners on the corners and forcing Reynolds out at second. Townsend, who reached base twice in the contest, sent a hard shot down the line plating Allen to pull ECU even with Rice.

ECU will be back on the diamond Saturday, Apr. 5 when they take on Rice in game two of the conference series. First pitch has been moved up to a 1 p.m. (ET) start due to potential inclement weather in the area later in the afternoon.