No. 3 Florida Tops Pirates 4-3
Feb. 20, 2010
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The East Carolina softball team took a 1-0 lead on No. 3 Florida, but could not hold on as the Gators claimed a 4-3 victory Saturday afternoon at the Lipton Invitational. It is the second time in as many meetings this season in which the Pirates (2-5) have fallen to the Gators (8-1) by a 4-3 score.
Faith Sutton (0-3) took the loss as she allowed three runs on six hits in three-and-a-third innings of work. Junior Toni Paisley threw the last three-and-two-thirds innings, surrendering a run on two hits. She also struck out five.
Erin Schuppert made her first career start for Florida and lasted two-and-two-thirds innings before giving way to ace Stephanie Brombacher. Schuppert gave up two runs on a pair of hits and two walks. Brombacher (6-1) allowed one run on four hits while fanning eight.
Sutton sent Florida down in order in the top of the first. In the bottom of the inning, the Pirates took a 1-0 lead when senior Christina Merrida was hit by a pitch with one out and classmate Vanessa Moreno drove her in with a double to the gap in left center. The double was the 34th of Moreno’s career, putting her in sole possession of seventh on the East Carolina all-time list.
The Pirates had a chance to add to the damage, but could not convert. Following Moreno’s double, senior Marina Gusman-Brown hit a towering pop-up on the infield that was dropped by third baseman Corrie Brooks to put runners on the corners. Gusman-Brown stole second and freshman Kai Clark drew a walk to load the bases with still only one out. Junior Sissy Jimenez stepped up to the plate and sent a soft line drive over the head of the third baseman, but shortstop Brittany Walker dove and made the catch at the edge of the grass. Senior Cristen Aona ended the inning with a line drive that was snared by Brooks.
Florida recorded its first base runner in the top of the second on a one-out walk by Brooks. A pop out to shortstop Kaui Tom was the second out, but the Gators tied it up on a double to left center by Tiffany DeFelice.
Walker led off the top of the third with a single through the left side and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Aja Paculba. Brittany Schutte followed with a double to center field that plated Walker and gave Florida a 2-1 lead. The heart of the Gator lineup came to the plate with a chance to tack on more runs, but Sutton retired Francesca Enea on a pop out to Aona and struck out Kelsey Bruder.
East Carolina rallied in the bottom of the inning to knot the score at 2-2. Merrida led off with an infield single and advanced to second on a Moreno sacrifice bunt. Gusman-Brown grounded out to the shortstop but Clark drew her second walk of the contest to put runners on first and second with two down. The free pass led to Florida’s pitching change and Brombacher coming to the circle. Jimenez drove the second pitch of her at bat into right field to score Merrida and tie the game. Of ECU’s 26 runs scored this season, 11 have come with two outs. Aona drew a walk to load the bases and bring up pinch hitter Cicely Lopez, but she struck out looking to end the inning.
In the top of the fourth, the Gators regained a one-run lead at 3-2. Megan Bush sent a soft line drive to left field for a one-out single and DeFelice drove another double to the gap in left center to put runners on second and third. Michelle Moultrie followed with a walk to load the bases. Walker stepped to the plate and lofted a pop-up behind Sutton but in front of charging Tom and senior Charina Sumner at second base to drive in Bush and reload the bases with still only one out. Paisley entered in relief of Sutton and escaped the threat by getting Paculba on a foul out to catcher Tiffany Shaw and striking out Schutte.
Again, East Carolina threatened in the bottom of the inning by putting two on base with one out but could not push a run across. Sumner reached when a Brombacher illegal pitch resulted in ball four and a walk. Another error by Brooks put Merrida on first and Sumner at second. Moreno and Gusman-Brown struck out swinging to end the threat.
The Pirates put together another opportunity in the sixth when Sumner and Merrida hit consecutive one-out singles. ECU could not convert, however, as Moreno grounded into a double play.
Florida added one more run in the top of the seventh on an Enea solo home run to left field. Paisley escaped further damage as the Gators loaded the bases on a Bruder double, Brooks hit by pitch and DeFelice walk, but Moultrie struck out swinging to end the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Pirates got a run back on a Gusman-Brown solo home run to deep center field. It was ECU’s first long ball of the season and first since Tom hit one against Campbell May 2, 2009. The shot also extended Gusman-Brown’s hitting streak to a career-long 11 games, dating back to the end of the 2009 campaign.
Following the home run, Clark walked for the fourth time in the contest. She became the first Pirate to receive four free passes in a game since Kate Manuse against Marshall March 6, 2005. Clark advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Aona, but was left stranded as sophomore pinch hitter Priscilla Velasquez struck out looking to end the game.
East Carolina finishes today’s games playing at 7 p.m. against Kansas.