Avchen Lifts Pirates Over Knights, 6-3
May 20, 2009
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Junior catcher Jared Avchen's two-run double to left center highlighted a four-run seventh as top-seed and No. 15 East Carolina walked away with a 6-3 win over UCF in a first round Conference USA Tournament Wednesday night at Pete Taylor Park. With the win the Pirates improve to 42-15 on the season, while UCF drops to 22-34.
Trailing 3-2 in the seventh, ECU strung together five hits to take a 6-3 lead. Dustin Harrington singled through the left side to start the frame and moved to second on Drew Schiber's single up the middle. Avchen, who extended his current hitting streak to 10 games, doubled off the wall in left center clearing the bases and posting his seventh game-winning RBI of the year. Trent Whitehead followed with another double to left center that plated Avchen just before he scored on Stephen Batts' third hit of the contest, a single to center.
Kevin Brandt (8-1) picked up the win in relief after allowing one run on four hits in two innings. Chris Heston went 5 1/3 innings in the start surrendering two runs on five hits with three walks and a strikeout before giving way to Brandt, who got out of a bases loaded jam. Seth Simmons notched his team-best ninth save closing out the final 1 2/3 innings.
Caleb Graham (4-3) got the loss despite holding the Pirates to a pair of runs through six full innings. In all he gave up five runs on eight hits with a walk and three strikeouts. D.J. Hicks was tagged for a run on two hits in 1 2/3 innings.
Hicks put the Knights up 1-0 when he blasted his eighth home run of the season down the right field line in the top of the second with one out.
Kiko Vazquez pushed UCF's lead to 2-0 in the fourth thanks to his 13th homer of the season down the left field line.
Batts knotted the game at two in the bottom of the sixth on his 14th home run of the season, a two-run shot, to left field. Whitehead singled up the middle for his second base knock of the game then came around to score on Batts' two-out shot, which was the 31st of his career.
Eric Kallstrom's gave the Knights a 3-2 lead in the seventh on a single to left center. Jake Huxtable singled to kick off the inning then moved into scoring position on Colin Arnold's sac bunt. Kallstrom ripped a first offering to left field scoring Huxtable.
The Pirates will be back on the diamond Thursday night when they play the winner of the Tulane-Southern Miss game at 8:30 p.m. (EDT).