Pirates Split With Houston
March 7, 2009
GREENVILLE, N.C. -- The first two meetings between Conference USA preseason No. 1 Houston and No. 2 East Carolina resulted in one win for each team. Four unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth inning gave ECU (10-6, 1-1 C-USA) a 6-2 victory in game one before the Cougars (9-10, 1-1 C-USA) bounced back in the second game and won 3-1. The Pirate victory snapped a six-game losing streak to Houston and was just ECU's second win in the last 13 meetings with the Cougars. The six runs in the first game were also the most East Carolina had scored against UH since March 11, 2006, when the Pirates won 6-5 in the program's only win at Houston.
Angel Barrella and Sarah Bibee provided the majority of the offense in the opener as both drove in two runs. Christina Merrida also chipped in with two hits and two runs scored. Houston starter Amanda Crabtree shut down the Pirate offense in the second game, allowing just one hit and striking out five in her seven innings of work.
In game one, East Carolina wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, plating two runs in the bottom of the first to take a 2-0 lead. Merrida hit a one-out single and stole second base. Marina Gusman-Brown then drove in Merrida with a hard shot to right field. One pitch later, Barrella hit a double to right-center field, allowing Gusman-Brown to score. The two runs in the first inning matched the total East Carolina scored in the three-game series at Houston a year ago.
The Cougars rallied in the top of the third with one out as Katie Bush walked and Mary Tyler Dobson followed with her first hit of the season. After Elaina Nordstrom fouled out to Cristen Aona at third base, Laurie Wagner hit a single to center field that plated Bush, making the score 2-1 in favor of ECU.
Houston then tied the score at 2-2 in the top of the fourth when Haley Valis walked, moved to second on a bunt by Angela Spittler and scored on a double to right center by Melissa Gregson. It was just the second lead ECU had lost all season.
After the runs in the first by East Carolina, the offense managed just a Barrella walk until the bottom of the sixth when the Pirates scored four runs, aided by two Cougar errors. It was the fourth time ECU had scored at least four runs in an inning this season, and the third time in the last five games.
Merrida started the offense for the Pirates in the frame, reaching on an error by the first baseman. She moved to second on a wild pitch before Jessica Johnson was hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second with nobody out. Gusman-Brown then bunted, and the second baseman dropped the throw at first, loading the bases. A nine-pitch at bat by Barrella resulted in a walk, driving in Merrida and giving the Pirates a 3-2 lead. A sacrifice fly by Aona then plated Johnson and Bibee finished driving in the runs for ECU with a double to right field that scored two more. It was Bibee's second multiple-RBI game in the last three.
Toni Paisley earned the win in game one, allowing six hits and four walks on 124 pitches in her seven innings of work. The victory moved Paisley to 7-2 on the season.
The second game had the Pirates take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second without a hit. Gusman-Brown was hit by a pitch to start the inning and then Barrella walked. A double steal put the runners on second and third and allowed Gusman-Brown to then score on a wild pitch by Crabtree.
Caitlin Wainright held the Houston offense in check until the top of the fifth when the Cougars scored all three of their runs for a 3-1 lead. Wagner led off with a double to center, moved to third on a groundout by Jessica Valis and scored on a single by Haley Valis. The Cougars then loaded the bases with one out before Casey Willow walked, forcing in a run for a 2-1 UH advantage. Bush then added the final Houston run with a single up the middle.
For the game, ECU managed just seven base runners and never more than two in an inning. Wainright gave up just three hits in the game but suffered the loss and dropped to 2-3 on the season.
The Pirates finish up the series against Houston tomorrow with one game beginning at noon.