Senior Suzanne Riggs hit her fourth home run of the season, tied for the eighth most in Conference USA, Tuesday at North Carolina.
March 13, 2012
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - In the first meeting between rivals East Carolina and North Carolina since 2009, the Tar Heels (18-7) got the upper hand with a 4-2 victory over the Pirates (10-14) Tuesday afternoon at Anderson Stadium. The game's only runs were via home runs as UNC's Constance Orr and Logan Foulks each hit a two-run home run and ECU seniors Suzanne Riggs and Priscilla Velasquez hit solo shots. North Carolina pitcher Lori Spingola struck out nine, five looking, in the complete-game effort.
Freshman Sarah Christian (8-8) suffered the loss for the Pirates, surrendering five hits, three in the bottom of the second inning and two in the sixth. The Greenville product retired the Tar Heels in order in the other four frames. She struck out one and did not issue a walk in the complete game. Spingola (12-6) also allowed five hits and issued two free passes over seven innings.
After both teams were sent down in order in the first inning, East Carolina tallied the game's first base runner in the second inning as Riggs drew a walk. Velasquez put down her Conference USA-leading seventh sacrifice bunt of the campaign to advance Riggs to second. Riggs moved to third on a Spingola illegal pitch, but a pair of strikeouts looking kept the Pirates off the scoreboard.
North Carolina put together a two-out rally in the bottom of the second to take a 2-0 lead. A strikeout and foul out started the inning, but Amber Parrish doubled to left center for the first hit of the contest and Orr followed with a two-run home run to left field.
The Pirates got a run back in the top of the fourth as Riggs hit her team-leading fourth home run of the season off the scoreboard in left center with one out. Spingola tallied a strikeout before issuing a walk to sophomore Jordan Lewis. A pop out to shallow right field ended the inning.
ECU had another chance to score in the top of the fifth but failed to convert. With one out, junior Kai Clark singled to center field and was replaced by sophomore pinch runner Rebecca Lee. A lineout to Paige Williams at shortstop by sophomore Jill Jelnick left Lee on first base with two down. Sophomore Kristi Oshiro singled through the right side to put runners on first and second, but Spingola recorded a pop out to strand the pair.
In the top of the sixth, the Pirates' second home run of the day knotted the game at 2-2. A fly out started the frame, but Velasquez hit her first home run of the season on a line drive to center field. Lewis followed with a single to center field. After a strikeout, Lewis stole second base. Spingola avoided further damage with her second whiff of the frame.
UNC regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth with Foulks' two-run home run to make it the 4-2 final. Kelli Wheeler led off with a double to right center and was replaced by pinch runner Tisha Mahon. A sacrifice bunt moved Mahon to third base and Foulks' home run made it a two-run advantage. Christian rebounded with a pop out and groundout to close the inning.
Spingola sent down ECU in order in the seventh to seal the victory.
East Carolina begins Conference USA action this weekend with a three-game series at defending league regular season co-champion Tulsa (16-6, 2-1 C-USA). The teams play a doubleheader Saturday starting at 2:00 p.m. ET and finish Sunday with a 1:00 p.m. clash.
-- Senior Suzanne Riggs leads the Pirates with four home runs this season and has eight in her career, all in the last two years.
-- Senior Priscilla Velasquez hit her first home run since a three-run long ball against Tulsa May 14, 2011, in the Conference USA Tournament title game.
-- The last five games between the Pirates and Tar Heels have been decided by two runs or less.
-- ECU has hit eight home runs in the last 11 games and is up to 12 this season after hitting 16 in all of 2011.
-- Opponents have hit eight home runs in the last six contests.
-- The five strikeouts looking are tied for the third most by ECU in a game since the start of the 2006 campaign.
-- East Carolina has won 17 of the last 21 contests against in-state foes, outscoring them 113-26.