May 25, 2007
GREENVILLE, N.C. - Harrison Eldridge stole home in the bottom of the tenth inning to give No. 2 East Carolina a 2-1 win over No. 3 Southern Miss Thursday night at Clark-LeClair Stadium in game eight of the 2007 Conference USA Baseball Championships.
With the game tied at one in the bottom of the tenth inning, Eldridge singled to left with one out off Tyler Conn on a full count to set the wheels in motion for a dramatic Pirate (38-20) finish. Ryan Wood followed with a walk moving Eldridge to second before he advanced to third on a wild pitch. Freshman Broc Sutton, who pinch-ran for Kyle Roller in the ninth, came up with one out in the tenth and was intentionally walked by Conn. With the bases juiced for Stephen Batts, Eldridge took off for home on a 1-0 count and touched home for the Pirates victory.
Shane Mathews notched his fourth win of the season and improved to 4-3 after working a scoreless tenth. He allowed just two walks and no hits. Starter Dustin Sasser allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings on six hits in his 15th start and did not factor in the decision. The lefty from Pikeville, N.C. fanned four Southern Miss batters while walking three. It was the third outing of the year where he allowed one or fewer runs. Bailey Daniels relieved Sasser in the seventh with one out and a runner on second getting the Pirates out of the jam. Daniels went 1 2/3 innings allowing one hit with one strikeout. Jason Neitz made his 31st appearance starting the ninth frame giving up one hit.
Conn (1-2) suffered he loss for Southern Miss (38-20) pitching a third of an inning, allowing one hit, one run and two walks. Barry Bowden continued his impressive pitching as he extended his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 17 innings. On the night he went eight full frames, scattering four hits, walking two and fanning five. Closer Patrick Ezell worked the ninth giving up the tying run on a pair of hits.
Jody Blount put the Golden Eagles up 1-0 when he led off the sixth inning with his sixth home run of the year to right field off Sasser on a 1-1 count.
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth, Roller laced a one-out single through the left side for the Pirates fifth hit of the night. Head Coach Billy Godwin lifted Roller and replaced him with the speedy Sutton just ahead of Batts plate appearance. Batts ripped a double off the right field wall extending his current hit streak to 24 games and putting runners at second and third with one out. Ryan Tousley loaded the bases with a free pass from Ezell and Jamie Ray flied out to center plating Sutton and tying the game at one.
Offensively the Pirates managed just seven hits with Ryan Wood leading the way with two. Ray picked up his only hit of the game in the bottom of the fifth, extending his current hit streak to 10 games, one shy of his personal-best 11 game streak during the 2006 season.
With its victory, ECU earned an off day Friday and will face the winner of the loser's bracket game between Southern Miss and Tulane Saturday at 12:30 p.m.