Pirates Take Series With 6-2 Win
April 17, 2011
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - East Carolina junior Suzanne Riggs drove in a career-high five runs to lift East Carolina to a 6-2 victory over UAB Sunday afternoon. Riggs hit a three-run home run in the first inning to back senior Toni Paisley's 11-strikeout performance. ECU freshmen Kristi Oshiro and Jill Jelnick both tallied two hits and scored twice to help the Pirates. With the win, East Carolina improves to 31-16 and 11-7 in Conference USA.
The Blazers (31-13, 12-3 C-USA) entered the weekend leading C-USA and suffered their first series loss of the season. Four times since the start of the 2008 season, the Pirates have played a league series against a team in first, or tied for first, in the C-USA standings. In those contests, ECU has gone 9-3.
Paisley (24-8) went the distance for the Pirates and scattered three hits without issuing a walk. Lauren Webster (10-3) took the loss for Blazers after throwing the first frame and allowing three runs on four hits. She also struck out a batter. Alisha Smith came in for the next two-and-two-thirds innings. She did not give up a hit, but surrendered two runs, one earned, on four walks. Leigh Streetman tossed two-and-a-third frames and allowed one run on two walks and three hits while striking out four. Lannah Campbell threw a perfect seventh to complete the pitching effort.
The Pirates wasted little time jumping on the Blazers, going ahead 3-0 in the top of the first. Oshiro and Jelnick started the game with consecutive singles. Riggs then sent a 1-1 pitch over the fence in left field for the 3-0 lead before an out was recorded. After a strikeout, senior Sissy Jimenez singled to right, but was left stranded with a pair of groundouts. For the year, ECU has outscored its opponents 36-11 in the first inning.
East Carolina added another run in the top of the third to take a 4-0 lead. Jelnick reached on a fielding error by Alisha Smith to start the frame. Following a fly out to right field, freshman Jordan Lewis reached on a fielding error by the first baseman, putting runners on first and second with one out. Jimenez hit a grounder to the shortstop, who flipped to the second baseman for the force out of Lewis. The second baseman tried to complete the double play by throwing to first, but the toss sailed past and allowed Jelnick to score. A groundout closed the threat.
In the top of the fourth, four walks pushed in a run for the Pirates, giving them a 5-0 advantage. With one out, Cicely Lopez walked. After a fly out to center, Oshiro and Jelnick drew free passes before UAB made another pitching change, bringing in Streetman. Riggs picked up the final walk of the frame, forcing in Lopez to give ECU a five-run lead. It was Riggs' 10th multiple-RBI game of the season. A strikeout looking closed the threat.
UAB answered in the bottom of the fourth with a run to make it a 5-1 game. The Blazers tallied their first hit of the contest when Caley Walden led off with a triple to right field. Catherine Douglass followed with a squeeze bunt that brought home Walden. Paisley fielded the Douglass bunt, but the throw to first pulled Oshiro off the bag and allowed Douglass to reach safely. She moved to second on a passed ball and to third on a fly out to right field. With Douglass on third and two outs, Mandy Lowman reached on a catcher's interference call, putting runners on the corners. Paisley closed the threat striking out Kristen McGrath looking.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Blazers scored again to cut the lead down to 5-2. Tiffany Smith bunted for a single with one out, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a single to center field by Walden. Paisley got out of trouble striking out Douglass swinging.
The Pirates had the answer in the top of the sixth, scoring to make it a 6-2 lead. After a pop out started the frame, Oshiro and Jelnick hit consecutive singles to put runners on first and second. Riggs drove in Oshiro with a single to right center for her career-high fifth RBI of the contest. She became the first Pirate with five runs batted in during a game since Jessica Johnson against Georgetown March 20, 2009. A strikeout and groundout prevented ECU from adding more runs in the frame.
Paisley retired the Blazers in order in the sixth with the help of a diving catch of a line drive in center by freshman Jasmine Robbins. In the seventh, Paisley worked around a two-out base runner and struck out Sallie Van Kirk to end the game and seal the win.
Next up for the Pirates is a trip to El Paso, Texas, for a three-game series at UTEP (16-29, 1-14 C-USA). Because of the Easter holiday, the Pirates play a doubleheader Friday at 5:00 p.m. and close the set Saturday with a 3:00 p.m. game.