Pirates Split Saturday
March 27, 2010
GREENVILLE, N.C. - The East Carolina softball team pulled out a dramatic 4-3 victory in nine innings of game one before falling 10-6 to Marshall Saturday afternoon at the ECU Softball Field. The games were the Pirates’ (14-12, 1-1 C-USA) first Conference USA contests of the season.
In the opener, senior Marina Gusman-Brown hit a two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings before classmate Kaui Tom drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the ninth. It was the second time this season the teams played nine innings as the Thundering Herd recorded an 8-7 victory at the Lipton Invitational in Gainesville, Fla., Feb. 19. In the second contest, Marshall (16-15, 2-6 C-USA) fell behind 3-0 but responded with nine-straight runs and held on for the 10-6 triumph.
Junior Toni Paisley (9-7) earned the victory in game one as she gave up three runs, two earned, and four hits in the complete-game effort. She also struck out 14, including five in a row in the seventh and eighth innings, marking the sixth time this season she reached double digits in whiffs. Marshall’s Katie Murphree went the first seven-and-a-third innings, holding the Pirates to three runs on seven hits in the no-decision. She also struck out five. Caitlyn Jackson (3-7) came on for Murphree in the eighth and took the loss as she threw the final one-and-a-third frames. She allowed no hits, but a walk and an unearned run in the ninth.
In the second game, sophomore Faith Sutton (5-5) took the loss as she went two-and-a-third innings, giving up eight hits and eight runs, seven earned. Gusman-Brown came in for three-and-a-third innings. She held Marshall to two hits and two runs. Paisley got the final four outs. Jackson went the first three-and-two-thirds for the Thundering Herd, giving up six runs, four earned, on eight hits. Murphree (10-8) went the final three-and-a-third frames to record the win. She did not allow a hit and struck out five.
East Carolina pushed across the first run of the opener in the bottom of the second inning when freshman Kai Clark led off with her second career home run, over the wall in right center.
Neither team mounted another scoring threat until the top of the fourth, when Marshall scored twice to take a 2-1 lead. Alianna Telles led off reaching on an error by Gusman-Brown, who dropped a fly ball. Jessica Hughes came in to pinch run before Jackson hit a sharp single to center field, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Jazmine Valle doubled to left field, scoring Hughes and leaving runners on second and third with still no outs. Rebecca Gamby struck out swinging for the second time in the contest, but Melanie Stoehr executed a suicide squeeze, bringing in Jackson for a 2-1 advantage. Pinch hitter Bri Anna Hope struck out swinging to allow Paisley to escape without any further damage.
The Pirates tried to answer in the bottom of the frame as senior Charina Sumner led off with a double to left center. Following a lineout, Sumner advanced to third on an illegal pitch. A groundout and strikeout, however, left her on third.
Marshall added another run in the top of the fifth when Marcena Bertoldo hit a solo home run to left center, making the Herd lead 3-1.
Again in the bottom of the inning, East Carolina tried to rally, but could not convert. Freshman Cicely Lopez led off with a shot up the middle that Murphree knocked down, but she could not throw Lopez out at first. Sophomore Suzanne Riggs laid down a bunt, but Lopez was forced out at second, leaving Riggs on first base. Tom sent the first pitch she saw into right field for a single, putting runners on first and second with one out. Gusman-Brown flew out to left field and senior Christina Merrida lined out to left, ending the inning.
Sumner tried to bring the Pirates back again as she led off the bottom of the sixth with her second-straight double. A groundout to first pushed Sumner to third. Murphree preserved the two-run lead as she recorded a strikeout and groundout.
In the bottom of the seventh, ECU tied the score on Gusman-Brown’s home run. Lopez led off with a single to left field. A strikeout followed before Tom hit into a fielder’s choice, leaving her as the only runner on base with two down. Gusman-Brown lined the first pitch she saw over the wall in dead center field.
After Paisley struck out the side in the top of the eighth, sophomore Priscilla Velasquez was hit by a pitch with one out. Jackson then came in to pitch for the Thundering Herd. Velasquez attempted to take second on a pitch that Gamby dropped, but was thrown out. Clark struck out to end the inning.
Senior Cristen Aona led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Lopez. Riggs came up and hit a ground ball to the third baseman, who threw to second base in an attempt to get Aona out. The throw got away and rolled into center field, allowing Aona to advance to third and put Riggs on first. Tom followed with the game-winning sacrifice fly to left field.
The ECU offense did not wait as long to get started in the second contest, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first to take a 3-0 lead. Gusman-Brown led off with a triple to right field and scored on a wild pitch. Merrida reached on a single to left field and stole second base. Sumner walked to put runners on first and second with still no outs. Clark laid down a bunt and no Herd player covered first base, allowing Clark to reach and load the bases. Velasquez grounded out to second base, scoring Merrida and advancing the other two runners. Lopez followed with the fourth hit of the inning when she singled through the right side. Sumner came home, but Clark was thrown out at the plate by the right fielder. Tom closed the frame with a fly-out to center field.
Marshall responded in the top of the second, putting three runs across to make it a 3-3 game. Stoehr led off with a single to right center and Gamby doubled off the wall in right field, putting runners on second and third with no outs. Hope flew out to right field before pinch hitter Victoria Marvin doubled to the gap in right center to drive in both runners. Melissa Loesing re-entered to run for Marvin and scored when she stole third base and Clark’s throw went into left field. A line-out to Tom at shortstop ended the inning.
The Thundering Herd added six more runs in the top of the third inning to take a 9-3 lead. Jackson led off with a single to right field and came home on a Valle home run to left field. Two batters later, Gamby sent a solo homer over the center field wall. Hope and Loesing hit consecutive singles to put runners on first and second with one out. Gusman-Brown then came on in relief of Sutton. Bertoldo struck out, but reached first on a passed ball. Pinch hitter Alysia Hively then cleared the bases with a double to right center. A fielder’s choice and groundout allowed Gusman-Brown to escape without further damage.
ECU got a run back in the bottom of the inning with a two-out tally. Sumner led off with an infield single. Two outs later, Lopez reached when the first baseman dropped the throw from the second baseman. Sumner advanced to third on the play and scored on a Tom single to left field.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Pirates cut the deficit down to three runs at 9-6. Gusman-Brown was hit by a pitch to lead off. Merrida followed with a single through the left side. Sumner grounded out to first, moving both runners up a base. Clark struck out swinging. On the third strike, Gamby attempted to pick Merrida off second base. Gusman-Brown broke home and scored before Bertoldo, who was covering second, could make the throw home. Merrida went to third and scored when Bertoldo’s throw rolled to the backstop. Velasquez singled up the middle and Lopez drew a walk to put runners on first and second with two outs. Murphree then came on for Jackson in the circle and retired Tom on a fielder’s choice.
Marshall added its final run in the top of the sixth. Telles drew a one-out walk and went to second when Valle singled with two down. Stoehr drove in Telles with a single to right field, making the score 10-6. Paisley then came in for Gusman-Brown and retired Gamby on a groundout.
The Pirates put two runners on in the bottom of the sixth, but could not push one across. In the seventh, ECU senior Nicole Jordan was hit by a pitch with two outs, but was left stranded to preserve the Marshall win.
The teams play the deciding third game tomorrow at 12:00 p.m.