GREENVILLE, N.C. – A clutch two-out home run off the bat of redshirt freshman infielder Tate McClellan propelled East Carolina to a 2-1 victory over Connecticut Saturday afternoon at the ECU Softball Stadium. The win clinched the first series sweep in conference play for the Pirates since joining the American Athletic Conference prior to the 2015 campaign.
McClellan’s two-run shot in the bottom of the fourth inning was the 55th of the season for the Purple and Gold, breaking the previous AAC single-record of 54 held by Louisville in 2015.
With the triumph, ECU matched its win total from last season both overall and in American Conference play.
Team Records: East Carolina: (23-23, 5-7 American) | Connecticut: (14-22, 1-7 American)
McClellan was one of three Pirates to notch a hit in the contest as she accounted for a run scored and two RBI. Senior outfielder Kacie Oshiro drew a pair of walks to reach base safely for the 13th-straight outing. Senior outfielder Ciara Ervin and freshman utility player Logan Wood picked up the other two East Carolina base knocks.
Chloe Kerns and Ryne Nakama turned in a pair of two-hit efforts for the visiting Huskies.
Senior RHP Lydia Ritchie (15-10) collected the victory in relief, tossing the final four innings and allowing just one run on five hits. She walked one batter and fanned four. Chelsea Eckert (1-2) threw a complete game in defeat, coughing up two runs on three hits with three walks and a strikeout.
Ritchie ended her week with stellar numbers in the circle, compiling a 4-0 record with a 0.56 earned run average, 21 strikeouts, two complete-game shutouts and three complete games.
How They Scored
Oshiro drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the fourth on a full count before a fly out to center became the second out. McClellan then worked a 3-2 count and left no doubt on the sixth pitch of the at bat, crushing the pitch way out of the yard in left center to afford East Carolina all the runs it would need.
Consecutive singles by Nakama and Kiwi McDaniel had Connecticut in business to begin the top of the fifth with runners at the corners and no outs. Kelli Bates followed with a sacrifice fly to score Nakama and cut the Pirate edge to 2-1. Carli Cutler then singled to left field to keep the rally going, but Ritchie induced a pair of fly outs to mitigate any further damage.
The Huskies had the tying run at second after a Nakama single and McDaniel sacrifice bunt, but Ritchie slammed the door shut with a lineout to third base and a fly out to right field.
Statistics of the Game
Connecticut left nine runners on base and was just 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. The Pirates limited the Huskies to six singles even though the visitors out-hit ECU 6-3.
East Carolina begins its last road swing of the regular season Wednesday with a doubleheader at Longwood in Farmville, Va. First pitch for game one is set for 5 p.m. EDT.