Long Ball Leads Pirates Past Elon, 7-5
April 16, 2009
ELON, N.C. – Kaui Tom and Jessica Johnson hit three-run home runs to power East Carolina past Elon 7-5 on Thursday night at East Field. The Pirates (31-11) have now hit five homers in the last five games. Kaitlyn Piazzolla and Brandi Jones led the offense for the Phoenix (13-21), combining to drive in all five of the team's runs.
Toni Paisley, 23-6, recorded the win in relief of Brooke Swann. In Paisley’s four and two-thirds innings, she allowed one run, one hit and fanned 10. The strikeouts give her 463 in her career, putting her third in school history. She has also fanned 222 this season, the fifth-most in an ECU season.
Elon took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Jones led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jacqueline Gonzalez and scored on a two-out single up the middle by Piazzolla. It was just the ninth first-inning run the Pirates had given up this season.
East Carolina responded in the top of the second, scoring three runs to take a 3-1 lead. Cristen Aona led off with a single to left and advanced to second on Marina Gusman-Brown’s sacrifice bunt. Sarah Bibee was then hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with one out. Christina Merrida hit into a fielder’s choice for the second out of the inning but Tom followed with her three-run home run.
In the bottom of the frame, the Phoenix got two-out singles from Hannah Shelton and Jones, but Swann struck out Gonzalez on a change-up to end the threat.
The Pirates tacked on three more runs in the top of the third to take a 6-1 lead. Angel Barrella led off with a walk and Charina Sumner reached on a bunt single. Johnson then cleared the bases with her three-run home run.
A three-run home run by Piazzolla in the bottom of the third cut the ECU lead down to two at 6-4. Patti Weber and Melanie Helterbran reached on consecutive singles before Piazzolla’s long ball. A one-out double by Erin O’Shea chased Swann and brought in Paisley, who recorded two strikeouts to end the inning.
After the offensive display through the first three innings, the teams combined for just one base runner until the top of the sixth when Gusman-Brown beat out an infield single and Tom drew a two-out walk. Both were left stranded after a groundout to keep the score 6-4 in favor of ECU.
East Carolina loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh as Johnson and Gusman-Brown were hit by pitches and Aona walked. Bibee then drove in the Pirates' final run with a single to left field that plated Johnson for a 7-4 advantage.
Jones led off the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run to make the final score 7-5.
The Pirates return to Conference USA action this weekend, hosting their final league series of the season when Memphis (20-22, 5-10 C-USA) travels to Greenville. The teams are scheduled to play a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 1 p.m. and finish the series with a single game on Sunday beginning at 12 p.m.