Pirates Fall 7-6 As Tulsa Sweeps Series

UABSPORTS.COM Sophomore Jill Jelnick scored twice and had two hits Sunday at Tulsa.
Sophomore Jill Jelnick scored twice and had two hits Sunday at Tulsa.

March 18, 2012

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TULSA, Okla. - After falling twice at Tulsa on Saturday, East Carolina (10-17, 0-3 C-USA) held a 6-3 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning, but Tulsa (19-6, 5-1 C-USA) scored four times to claim a 7-6 victory Sunday afternoon. A bases-loaded walk to the Golden Hurricane's Jill Barrett forced in the contest-deciding run as Tulsa completed the comeback.

Senior Suzanne Riggs hit her third home run of the week and sophomore Jordan Lewis hit a two-run double to power East Carolina's offense. Riggs finished the contest three-for-three with three runs batted in and a career-high-tying three scored.

Freshman Sarah Christian (8-10) took the loss for the Pirates, going all six-and-two-thirds. She surrendered seven runs, three earned, on 13 hits and four walks. She also struck out one. Kalynn Schrock started for the Golden Hurricane and threw two-and-two-thirds, allowing four runs on three hits and two walks. She fanned one before giving way to Aimee Creger (9-2), who went the remaining four-and-a third to earn the win. Creger gave up a pair of runs on five hits and two walks with two whiffs.

For the second-straight game, East Carolina took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Sophomore Jill Jelnick singled to right field to open the contest and classmate Kristi Oshiro put down a sacrifice bunt that moved Jelnick to second. Riggs followed with her home run to right center that put the Pirates ahead. Schrock settled down with a groundout and fly out to end the frame.

Tulsa wasted little time getting one of the runs back by scoring in the bottom of the first. Caitlin Everett tripled to right field to open the inning and scored on a one-out groundout to Oshiro at second base by Samantha Cobb.

ECU extended its lead to three runs in the top of the third with a two-out rally. With two down and the bases clear, Oshiro doubled to left center and Riggs walked before senior Priscilla Velasquez drew another free pass to fill the bases. Creger replaced Schrock and sophomore Jordan Lewis greeted Creger with a double off the bottom of the wall in left to plate Oshiro and Riggs and make it a 4-1 advantage. Creger avoided further damage with a pop out.

In the bottom of the frame, the Pirates' 11th double play of the season helped keep the three-run advantage for East Carolina. Everett led off reaching on a throwing error by Christian and moved to second on an infield single by Barrett. Cobb lined out to Oshiro, who threw to sophomore shortstop Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin covering second to double off Everett. Skylar Swanson drew a walk to put runners on first and second, but a Lacey Middlebrooks foul out to Riggs in left ended the threat.

The Golden Hurricane had another scoring threat in the fourth but could not convert. After a groundout started the frame, Jessica Stoelke and Cassidy Bowen hit consecutive singles to put runners on first and second with one out. Christian struck out Cierra Hughes and retired Everett on a fly out to Riggs in left.

After the defensive hold, the Pirates scored two in the top of the fifth to go ahead 6-1. Jelnick started the frame with a single to left field and moved to second on Oshiro's second sacrifice bunt of the contest. Riggs delivered again with a single past Barrett at third base and into left field. Jelnick scored and Riggs moved to second on the throw to the plate. Velasquez followed with a single to right that brought home Riggs for the five-run lead. A fielder's choice and fly out closed the inning.

Another double play in the bottom of the fifth kept Tulsa off the board again. Barrett led off the inning with a double into the right-field corner and Cobb followed with a single just over the head of Velasquez to put runners on the corners with no outs. Swanson sent a line drive up the middle, but Christian made the catch and threw to first to double off Cobb. Middlebrooks grounded out to Oshiro to end the threat.

Tulsa cut into the Pirate lead in the bottom of the sixth to make it a 6-3 contest. Shelby Blanton was hit by a pitch and Stoelke singled to right field to put runners on first and second to start the frame. Bowen swung at a 3-0 pitch and fouled out to sophomore catcher Rebecca Lee behind home plate before a Hughes sacrifice bunt moved both runners up a base. Everett came through with a two-out double over Riggs in left to drive in the pair. Christian ended the inning with a Barrett groundout.

ECU loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the seventh, but Everett made a running catch into the wall in center field to haul in an Alex Fieldhouse deep fly ball to end the frame and keep it a three-run contest.

The Golden Hurricane capitalized on the defensive hold and scored four times in the bottom of the seventh to win 7-6. Cobb led off reaching on an error and Swanson singled to right field to put runners on first and second. Middlebrooks flew out to center field before Blanton singled to center to drive in Cobb and make it a two-run game. Stoelke followed with a soft single to right that loaded the bases with one out. Bowen bounced into a fielder's choice as third baseman Fieldhouse threw home for the force out on Swanson. Hughes drew a walk to force in Blanton and Everett singled to center to drive in Stoelke and tie the contest at 6-6. Barrett picked up a four-pitch free pass to plate Bowen for the game-ending run.

Up next for East Carolina are its first home games since a 4-3 win over Hofstra on Feb. 20. The Pirates have nearly a full week off before hosting UTEP (12-17, 2-3 C-USA) for a three-game series March 24-25. The teams play a doubleheader Saturday starting at 1:00 p.m. and finish the set Sunday with a 12:00 p.m. contest.

Post-Game Notes
-- With her first-inning home run, senior Suzanne Riggs has recorded one or more hits in nine of the last 10 games. She has now reached base in a 2012 Pirate-best 10 consecutive contests.
-- Riggs reached base in her last seven plate appearances against the Golden Hurricane, tallying a single in her final at-bat of the series opener, going 2-2 in the second contest with a double and home run and finishing 3-3 in the third game with a long ball, walk and two singles.
-- Riggs finished this week's four games with three home runs, eight RBI, five runs scored and a 1.545 slugging percentage.
-- Senior Priscilla Velasquez has tallied a hit in five-straight games.
-- Sophomore Jill Jelnick batted leadoff all three games in the series and reached base to start each contest with a walk and two singles.
-- East Carolina has been swept in its last two Conference USA series as Houston took all three from the Pirates in Greenville April 30-May 1, 2011.
-- The 25 runs allowed in the three contests at Tulsa are the most the Pirates have surrendered in a C-USA series since allowing 29 at Houston April 12-13, 2008.
-- The Pirates have recorded 11 home runs in the last 14 games, an average of 0.79 per contest.
-- Since joining Conference USA in 2002, ECU is now 15-18 in league-opening series and 10-8 in the last six such series.