Brandon Henderson's grand slam in the seventh forced a winner take-all game on Monday.
May 31, 2009
GREENVILLE, N.C. - Kyle Roller, Dustin Harrington and Brandon Henderson hit home runs to lead Greenville Regional top-seed East Carolina (45-18) past No. 2 seed South Carolina (40-22) 8-6 Sunday evening at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.
With the victory, the Pirates force a rematch between the two teams on Monday at 6 p.m. with the winner advancing to play No. 4 national seed North Carolina in the Super Regionals.
Freshman Kevin Brandt improved to 9-1 with the victory as he surrendered four runs on nine hits while matching his career-long outing by throwing eight and one-thirds innings. He fanned three in the contest and also retired 11 straight batters from the second through the sixth innings.
Nolan Belcher (4-5) allowed eight runs on nine hits in six and one-third innings, suffering the loss for the Gamecocks. In all, East Carolina tallied 10 hits against the South Carolina pitchers, giving the Pirates double-digits for the 45th time this season and fourth in as many games in the Greenville Regional.
East Carolina took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first on a Roller three-run home run. It was his third homer of the day after he hit two in the fifth inning against Binghamton in ECU's earlier contest. Trent Whitehead led off with a double and Ryan Wood followed with a single before both came home on Roller's long ball.
The Pirates added another run in the top of the fourth when Harrington led off with a home run.
In the bottom of the fifth, South Carolina's Adam Matthews hit a deep drive to right field but Devin Harris leaped, leaned over the wall and caught the ball for the third out of the frame. Matthews hit two home runs against the Pirates in last night's meeting between the two teams.
East Carolina used a grand slam from Henderson to take a 8-0 lead in the top of the seventh. Wood doubled down the left field line, Stephen Batts walked and Roller was hit by a pitch to load the bases, setting up Henderson's blast.
In the bottom of the seventh, South Carolina scored two runs to make the score 8-2. Jackie Bradley, Jr. led off with a single and one out later Justin Dalles singled. Andrew Crisp followed with a double down the right field line to drive in both runners. The double was Crisp's 23rd of the season, tying the school record.
South Carolina went down in order in the eighth before Dalles brought his team to within 8-4 on a two-run home run with one down in the top of the ninth. Pirate closer Seth Simmons then entered the game in relief with one away. The Gamecocks rallied, scoring four runs on four-straight hits but Simmons induced a foul ball out and a fly-out to center to terminate the threat and the contest.
Tickets for the championship game (session 7) are on sale now to all Pirate fans. You can purchase them online Sunday night at www.ECUPirates.com or by phone at 252-737-4500 or 1-800-DIAL-ECU. All remaining tickets for this championship game are general admission in the outfield (Jungle), tickets are $10 each.