|Pirates win three versus rival UAB
|GREENVILLE -- John Wooten’s walk-off single in the bottom of the 12th scored Kyle Roller from second base completing No. 26 East Carolina University’s sweep of Conference USA baseball foe UAB Sunday afternoon, 6-5.
With the win, the Pirates (24-12, 6-3) extend their current winning streak to six games, while UAB (10-15, 5-7) drops its fourth consecutive game.
Reminiscent of the final game of the 2009 Greenville Regional when Roller scored on Devin Harris’ single to center in the bottom of the 10th against South Carolina, the Pirates used another single to center in extra innings to claim their first series sweep in league play this season. Roller was hit in the head by a Nick Graffeo pitch to start the 12th frame then moved over to second on a text-book sacrifice bunt from Daniel Warzon. The 6-1, 250-pound first baseman came barreling home when Wooten lined a single to center for his first career walk-off hit.
Seth Simmons (2-1) worked 3 2/3 innings of perfect relief to notch his second win of the season. Starter Kevin Brandt, who faced one over the minimum through four innings, had another quality outing allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits with six strikeouts.
Freshman lefty Jake Harris fanned the lone batter he faced in the eighth before being lifted for Shawn Armstrong, who allowed one run on one hit in a full inning of work.
Graffeo (2-2) suffered the loss despite tossing 4 1/3 innings of relief where he surrendered one run on five hits with four walks and three punch outs.
Starter Ryan Woolley gave up four runs (all earned) on 10 hits in six innings and Ben Bullard made his second appearance of the series tossing one inning of relief allowing a run.
Trailing by one heading to the ninth frame, UAB pushed across the tying run when Jonathan Merritt grounded out to second scoring Danny Volk.
Blazer pinch hitter Devin Hamilton singled through the right side and took second on a fielding error by Philip Clark, the fourth Pirate error of the contest. Volk entered the game for Hamilton as a pinch runner and took this on an Armstrong wild pitch setting up the score-tying run.
ECU jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when Zach Wright smacked his team-leading 11th home run of the season sending a 2-2 offering from Woolley to left field to start the second inning.
Roller pushed the Pirate lead to two, 2-0, in the third on a RBI double off the right field wall that scored Trent Whitehead from first base.
Whitehead, who was 2-for-6 on the afternoon, reached when he roped a one-out single through the right side.
ECU continued to score in the fourth pushing across another run in the third to extend its lead to 3-0.
Harris and Austin Homan recorded back-to-back singles to open the frame and Cam Freeman laid down the first of his two sacrifice hits plating Harris.
Three errors by the Pirates in the sixth gave the Blazers just its second lead in the three-game series at 4-3.
Merritt walked to start the stanza and took third a Nick Crawford infield single, where Crawford was awarded second on an errant throw by Freeman.
Jamal Austin, who batted .667 (10-for-15) in the series, singled through the right side scoring Merritt for UAB’s first run of the game.
John Frost followed with a bases-loaded walk and Luke Stewart plated Crawford when he reached on a fielder’s choice.
Andrew Manning reached on the third Pirate error of the inning that scored both Austin and Frost.
ECU answered in the bottom half of the inning when Jared Avchen sent a Woolley fastball to deep left field for his third home run of the year, knotting the game at four.
Wooten put the Pirates back on top 5-4 when he crossed home on a passed ball in the seventh inning.
The freshman shortstop drew a leadoff walk and moved to third on an errant throw by the catcher Jacob German, who tried to throw Wooten out at second on his stolen base attempt.
Ten Pirates collected hits on the afternoon with Roller leading the way with his 3-for-4 performance from the dish.
Joining Roller with multiple hits were Harris, Whitehead and Wooten each recorded two base knocks in the diamond showdown.