Marshall Tops East Carolina 3-2

UABSPORTS.COM Freshman Abby Wynne scored one of ECU's two runs at Marshall Sunday afternoon.
Freshman Abby Wynne scored one of ECU's two runs at Marshall Sunday afternoon.

March 20, 2011

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - A three-run home run in the third inning by Marshall's Rebecca Gamby was the difference as the Thundering Herd came back to top East Carolina 3-2 Sunday afternoon at Dot Hicks Field. Pirate junior Suzanne Riggs accounted for both of the team's runs in the contest. With the loss, ECU falls to 23-9 and 3-3 in Conference USA while Marshall improves to 11-15 and 1-5 in C-USA.

Senior Toni Paisley (17-5) took the loss for the Pirates as she surrendered the trio of runs on five hits. She struck out five in six innings. The Thundering Herd's Natalee Pulver (4-7) picked up the win as she threw the first four-and-a-third, allowing a pair of runs on three hits and a trio of walks. Rachel Rillo entered for the final two-and-two-thirds, giving up only one walk and fanning a pair. She earned her first save of the season. 

East Carolina took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second with a two-out run. The Pirates had their leadoff batter on as freshman Abby Wynne reached on a fielding error. Riggs laid down a bunt, but the Marshall third baseman threw out Wynne at second. Riggs moved to second on a groundout and to third on a single to right field by freshman Alex Fieldhouse. With freshman Jasmine Robbins batting, Fieldhouse broke for second base. Thundering Herd catcher Gamby threw down to second base and Riggs broke home. Marshall's shortstop Alianna Telles caught the ball as Fieldhouse stopped between first and second. Telles threw back to first base, but Fieldhouse slid in safely and Riggs crossed home for the one-run advantage. A groundout by Robbins ended the inning.

The Thundering Herd had a two-out base runner in the bottom of the second as Ashley Gue beat out an infield single. Jazmine Valle sent the first pitch of her at-bat up the middle. Paisley got a glove on the bouncing ball and freshman Kristi Oshiro at second base ranged over, recovered the ball and retired Valle at first to end the frame.

Marshall took its first lead of the weekend in the bottom of the third as it went ahead 3-1. Samantha Spurlock led off with a single just over the infield and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Taylor Thompson entered to run for Spurlock. After a fly out to center by Telles, pinch hitter Bri Anna Hope laid down a bunt single that moved Thompson to third. Jessica Hughes re-entered to run for Hope and stole second base. Gamby cleared the bases with her second home run of the weekend, a three-run shot over the center field fence. Paisley escaped further damage with a strikeout and retired the final nine Marshall batters she faced in the contest.

The Pirates answered immediately in the top of the fourth to make it a 3-2 deficit. Freshman Jordan Lewis singled to center field to start the frame, but was thrown out at second on a Wynne fielder's choice. Riggs followed with a double off the wall in center field, plating Wynne from first base. Senior Sissy Jimenez drew a walk to put runners on first and second with one out. Fieldhouse battled for 15 pitches before flying out to center field. Junior Priscilla Velasquez entered to pinch hit and walked to load the bases with two down. A groundout by sophomore pinch hitter Kai Clark ended the threat.

In the top of the fifth ECU had another chance to score but could not push a run across. Oshiro led off with a walk and went to second on a sacrifice bunt. Rillo then entered to pitch and retired Lewis on a groundout and Wynne on a strikeout to close the inning.

Rillo retired the Pirates in order in the sixth, but they did not go quietly in the seventh. Freshman pinch hitter Jill Jelnick led off reaching on a fielding error by the second baseman. With sophomore pinch hitter Cicely Lopez batting, Jelnick attempted to go to second as Gamby had a pitch bounce off her glove. Gamby recovered and threw to Telles at second base. Jelnick ran back to first, but Telles made the throw in time and Jelnick was tagged out. Lopez drew a walk and freshman Mahrisch Medina entered to pinch run. Oshiro hit into a fielder's choice as Telles retired Medina at second. A strikeout gave Marshall the victory.

East Carolina has nearly a week off before returning to the field next weekend when the Pirates host Tulsa (21-7, 5-0 C-USA) for three games. The last two years, the programs have finished first or second in the league regular-season standings. The three-game series starts with a 1:00 p.m. doubleheader Saturday.