Pirates Snap Skid, Defeat UAB 4-2

UABSPORTS.COM Senior Suzanne Riggs drove in her 24th and 25th runs of the season Saturday against UAB with a two-run home run in the first inning.
Senior Suzanne Riggs drove in her 24th and 25th runs of the season Saturday against UAB with a two-run home run in the first inning.

April 7, 2012

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GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina snapped a six-game losing streak Saturday afternoon, downing UAB 4-2 to give head coach Tracey Kee the 675th victory of her career. A two-run home run in the first by senior Suzanne Riggs and a two-run single to center field in the second by sophomore Jill Jelnick gave ECU a 4-0 lead and the Pirates (16-23, 4-8 C-USA) held on for the win.

Freshman Sarah Christian (13-13) went the distance for East Carolina, scattering seven hits and a walk while allowing the two runs. In each of her last six starts, she has not given up more than three earned runs. UAB's Lannah Campbell (10-5) tossed the first inning-and-a-third, surrendering four runs on four hits and a walk. Amber Torres threw two-and-one-third, surrendering three hits and two walks. Lauren Webster completed the staff with two-and-a-third with one hit, two walks and four strikeouts.

The Pirates jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first with a two-out home run to left by Riggs. With two down and the bases clear, senior Priscilla Velasquez singled up the middle. Riggs followed with her team-leading seventh long ball of the year. Sophomore Alex Fieldhouse kept the inning alive with a single to center field, but a groundout ended the threat.

UAB (23-14, 9-3 C-USA) put two runners on in the top of the second, but stranded the pair. Mandy Lowman started the inning with a single to right center and was replaced by pinch runner Tiffany Smith. Kristen McGrath sent a long fly ball to right center, but sophomore Jasmine Robbins made the running catch. A single to left by Webster put runners on first and second with just one out. Christian worked out of the jam with a lineout and pop out.

East Carolina capitalized on the defensive hold and added two runs in the bottom of the inning to go up 4-0. After a strikeout, sophomore Rebecca Lee drew a walk and classmate Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin followed with a single to left field. A free pass to sophomore Kristi Oshiro loaded the bases for Jelnick, who singled to center to plate Lee and Kaluhiokalani-Glackin. The inning's third walk, this one to Velasquez, loaded the bases for Riggs, but she popped out. Fieldhouse hit a hard ground ball down the right-field line that first baseman Erica Sisson dove for, made the stop and stepped on first for the final out.

The Blazers cut the deficit in half in the top of the third with two runs to make it a 4-2 contest. Heather Pearson led off with a walk and Whitney Fletcher reached on a bunt single. Catherine Crawford grounded out to Christian in the circle, moving Pearson to third and Fletcher to second. Kayla Orr followed with a long fly ball to center that Robbins hauled in at the warning track. Pearson scored on the sacrifice fly and Fletcher advanced to third before she scored on a Lowman single. A groundout to Kaluhiokalani-Glackin at shortstop ended the threat.

In the bottom of the fourth the Pirates loaded the bases with one out, but failed to convert. Following an inning-starting strikeout, Jelnick singled to left, Velasquez picked up her second walk of the contest and Riggs drew her first free pass of the afternoon. Fieldhouse hit into a fielder's choice as Pearson at shortstop fielded the ground ball and threw home for the force on Jelnick. A pop out to Pearson closed the frame.

Christian and the Pirate defense did not allow a Blazer runner to reach second base in the fifth or sixth as the only runners were a two-out single from Crawford in the fifth and a one-out single from McGrath in the sixth.

In the seventh, pinch hitter Hayley Davis doubled over the head of Riggs in left with one out. With Fletcher at bat, Christian sent in a low pitch and Davis took off for third. Lee picked up the ball, fired to Kaluhiokalani-Glackin covering third and the tag was applied for the second out. Christian retired Fletcher on a groundout to seal the victory.

ECU has a full week off before returning to the diamond for a three-game series at Houston (22-15, 9-3 C-USA) next weekend. The first contest of the Saturday doubleheader, set for 3:00 p.m. ET, will be nationally televised on the FOX Sports network. The teams wrap up the series Sunday with a 1:00 p.m. ET matchup.

Post-Game Notes
-- Head coach Tracey Kee is one of just 36 active coaches at the NCAA Division I level to reach 675 career victories.
-- Sophomore Jill Jelnick's two runs batted in gave her four RBI in the last two contests.
-- In Jelnick's last 12 games, she is leading ECU with a .395 (15-for-38) batting average and owns team-high marks with nine runs batted in, 10 scored, eight walks, five stolen bases and a .500 on-base percentage.
-- Jelnick finished the weekend three-for-10 at the plate. In her career against UAB, she is batting .333 with two runs scored and five RBI.
-- Senior Suzanne Riggs leads the Pirates with 12 runs batted in and a .719 slugging percentage in Conference USA games.
-- Senior Priscilla Velasquez's single in the first inning gave her five hits in the last five games. In the last six contests, she is second on the Pirates with a .316 batting average.
-- With sophomore Alex Fieldhouse's first-inning single, she reached base in five-straight plate appearances against the Blazers.
-- East Carolina snapped its five-game Conference USA losing streak. The Pirates have not lost six consecutive league tilts since 2003, when it dropped nine straight to Louisville, UAB and DePaul.
-- The Pirates allowed only eight runs to UAB in the three games. During the previous three Conference USA series, against Tulsa, UTEP and UCF, the opponent had been able to score eight or more times in one game.
-- Freshmen Sarah Christian and Courtney Smith combined to post a 2.67 earned run average this weekend. The pair entered the series with a 4.54 ERA in league play.
-- ECU scored twice in the first inning Saturday. It is the third time in the last four contests the Pirates have pushed across at least one run in the opening frame.