GREENVILLE, N.C. – In a pair of tightly-contested games, the East Carolina softball team split its first Conference USA doubleheader of the season with UAB on Saturday afternoon at the ECU Softball Stadium.
The Pirates (12-5, 1-1 C-USA) won game one, 2-1, on a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning by Shelby Johnson, but dropped a 5-4, eight-inning affair in the second contest of the day.
Starting pitcher Sarah Christian (9-1) earned the victory for the Pirates with a complete-game effort, scattering six hits, while walking four and striking out two. Johnson went 2-for-4 at the plate, while Casey Alcorn batted 2-for-3 and scored the game-winning run.
UAB (8-11, 1-1 C-USA) scored its only run of the game on a solo home run to dead center by Kristen McGrath with two outs in the top of the first inning, but Christian proved dominant for the remainder of the game and kept the Blazers’ bats at bay.
ECU left runners stranded on first and second in both the bottom of the second and third innings, as Christian worked out of a pair of bases-loaded jams unscathed in the sixth and seventh innings, as the Pirates got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth inning when Abby Wynne stretched what appeared to be a routine, two-out single to left field into a double. Alex Fieldhouse followed up with RBI single to right field to tie the game, 1-1.
Alcorn led off the bottom of the seventh with a single, before back-to-back, two-out singles by Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin and Johnson brought her around to score the winning run.
In game two, ECU used five different pitchers, while UAB starter Lannah Campbell went the distance, allowing 4 hits, two earned runs and three walks to go with six strikeouts.
Fieldhouse went 2-for-3 with an RBI and Wynne scored two runs to lead the Pirates’ offense. In 3 1/3 innings of relief, freshman Lydia Ritchie allowed just three hits and two runs and struck out a career-high four batters. Gabby Andino (0-2) took the loss.
East Carolina scored its first run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the second inning, but the Blazers loaded the bases again in the top of the third inning and tied the game, 1-1, on a hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded.
The Pirates reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the third inning with a pair of singles by Kaluhiokalani-Glackin and Johnson, before Blazers shortstop Caitlin Attfield made a throwing error in an attempt to get the lead runner at third on a groundball to the left side that scored Kaluhiokalani-Glackin. An RBI groundout by Jordan Lewis two batters later scored Johnson to extend ECU’s lead to 3-1.
UAB tied the game once again at 3-3 on a two-out, two-run HR to left center by Megan McGrath in the top of the fifth inning.
Pitching took over for the next inning and a half until East Carolina had a chance to walk off yet again, but left the winning run on third base in the bottom of the seventh.
The Blazers took advantage of a walk and infield single to lead off the top of the eighth and laid down a sacrifice bunt to put runners on second and third with one out. UAB followed up with back-to-back RBI singles to right field to take a 5-3 advantage into the bottom of the frame.
Fieldhouse drove an RBI double to left field to cut the deficit to one, but ECU was unable to capitalize on the opportunity to extend the game, as the tying run was left stranded on third when the final out was made. The setback ended East Carolina’s seven-game winning streak.
The Pirates will play the final game of the series on Sunday at 12 noon at the ECU Softball Stadium. The game will be broadcast by Fox Sports Network and will feature ECU's Social Sunday promotion, offering $2 tickets to the general public.