GREENVILLE, N.C. – N.C. State used two solid pitching performances and a pair of key hits to defeat East Carolina 2-1 and 5-4 in 10 innings Wednesday evening. In the opener, a two-run home run by Bethaney Wells was all the offense the Wolfpack needed as Kayla Cox held ECU to three hits. In the nightcap, Alicia Abbott hit a two-run double in the top of the 10th to give NCSU the victory.
Senior Sissy Jimenez went 2-3 with two runs batted in and another scored during the second contest to lead the Pirates. Of East Carolina's 15 losses this season, 10 have been by one run and another three have been by two runs. The extra-inning affair was also ECU's third in the last five contests.
In the opener, senior Toni Paisley suffered the tough-luck loss as she allowed five hits and a pair of runs on the Wells homer. She fanned six and walked two in seven innings of work. Cox (10-11) limited the Pirates to the trio of hits, three walks and a hit batter. She also struck out six in the complete-game victory.
In the second contest, junior Faith Sutton threw the first four-plus innings, allowing three runs on eight hits. She struck out five before giving way to Paisley in the top of the fifth. Paisley (22-8) went the remaining six frames and suffered the loss. She allowed two hits and struck out six. It was the first time she was saddled with back-to-back losses since March 5-7, 2010, during ECU's spring break trip to Hawai'i. Paisley's six strikeouts, however, gave her 1,156 in her career, tied for the 29th most in NCAA Division I history. Morgan Peeler (8-7) went the distance for the Wolfpack, allowing four runs, two earned, on seven hits and four walks. She fanned six during the 10 innings.
Game one had the Pirates with the first scoring threat as freshman Kristi Oshiro led off the bottom of the first with a single over the head of Cox. After a strikeout, a sacrifice bunt moved Oshiro to second with two outs. Jimenez sent a deep fly ball to right, but the catch was made at the warning track to close the threat.
ECU threatened again in the second, but could not convert. Junior Suzanne Riggs led off with a double just past the glove of the third baseman and into left field. After a foul out on a bunt attempt, freshman Jill Jelnick sent a line drive to the shortstop. Chelsea Tate made a leaping catch and threw to second to double off Riggs and end the inning.
The Wolfpack answered with its own threat in the top of the third but was held off the board. A groundout started the frame, but Tate followed with a walk. Alyssa Ishibashi singled up the middle to put runners on first and second with one out. Paisley recovered to strike out the next two batters looking and prevent a run from scoring.
In the top of the fourth, N.C. State took a 2-0 lead on a one-out two-run home run by Wells. It was just the third home run allowed by Paisley all season and the first extra-base hit she had surrendered since a double in the March 27 game against Tulsa.
The Pirates got a run back in the bottom of the fourth to make it a 2-1 deficit. With one out, freshman Alex Fieldhouse doubled to the gap in left center and Jimenez was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Riggs fell behind in the count 0-2, but came all the way back for a walk to load the bases with one out. After a lineout, Jelnick drew a bases-loaded walk to force in Fieldhouse. A groundout ended the threat.
A single and error with two outs in the top of the fifth put a pair of Wolfpack runners on base, but a groundout to Oshiro at second base kept the N.C. State lead at one run.
East Carolina had a one-out base runner in the bottom of the sixth as Jimenez drew a walk. She was replaced by pinch runner Abby Wynne, who was retired at second on a fielder's choice before a strikeout closed the inning.
Cox got the first two outs of the seventh quickly on a fly out and pop out before freshman pinch hitter Mahrisch Medina battled for 12 pitches and reached on a fielding error by the third baseman. Oshiro stepped up and hit the second pitch on a line, but right at Wells in left to end the game.
In the second game, the Wolfpack jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first. N.C. State tallied four singles in the frame. The last, by Wells, drove in Toni Ann Williford. NCSU had the bases loaded and one out following the Wells single, but a strikeout and groundout got Sutton out of trouble.
ECU answered immediately in the bottom of the first to tie the game at 1-1. Jelnick led off with a single through the left side. After Oshiro was called out for making contact with the ball out of the batter's box, Jelnick stole second base and Fieldhouse walked to put runners on first and second with one out. An infield single by Jimenez loaded the bases with one out. Riggs then knotted the game at 1-1 with a sacrifice fly to the warning track that brought home Jelnick. A groundout to second base closed the threat.
The Pirates took their first lead of the day in the bottom of the third, 3-1. Oshiro led off with a walk, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Fieldhouse and moved to third on a wild pitch. A double to left center by Jimenez drove in Oshiro for a 2-1 lead. Riggs followed with a single to right field, advancing Jimenez to third. The right fielder had trouble picking up the ball, allowing Jimenez to score and put ECU ahead by two. A strikeout and fielder's choice allowed Peeler to escape without further damage.
N.C. State came back with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth to tie the game at 3-3. Ishibashi started the frame with a solo home run to left center. Williford was hit by a pitch and Landon Warren followed with a single to put runners on first and second with no outs. A double off the wall in left by Allbritten brought home Williford to tie the game at 3-3. Paisley entered for Sutton with runners on second and third with no outs. N.C. State tried to squeeze home a run on Paisley's first pitch, but the bunt attempt by Bridget Desbois went up in the air and Fieldhouse, at third, made a diving catch. Fieldhouse threw back to third to double off Wells, who was crossing home when the catch was made. Paisley got out of trouble by getting Breanna Andrews to pop out to Jimenez at first. The two runs were just the fourth and fifth allowed by the Pirates in the fifth inning this season.
The Pirates had a chance to answer in the bottom of the fifth but failed to convert. Fieldhouse singled with one out and Jimenez was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with one out. A strikeout looking and groundout back to Peeler ended the threat.
In the top of the sixth, the Wolfpack mounted a two-out threat as Ishiabahi singled to center and Williford was hit by a pitch. Paisley got out of trouble with a foul out to left.
Neither team registered another base runner until the bottom of the eighth when Riggs drew a one-out walk. She was erased on a fielder's choice before a groundout closed the inning.
East Carolina threatened in the bottom of the ninth as freshman Jasmine Robbins led off with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore pinch hitter Cicely Lopez. Jelnick was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with one out. A groundout by Oshiro moved the pair up a base, but a strikeout ended the frame.
The Wolfpack scored twice in the top of the 10th to make it a 5-3 game. With international tie-breaker rules in place at the start of the inning, pinch runner Samantha Melton was placed on second. A sacrifice bunt moved her to third, but Paisley struck out Wells on a check swing for the second out. Andrews was hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners. Abbott then delivered the winning run with a double over the head of Riggs in left that plated both runners. A fly out to center closed the frame.
The Pirates got a run back in the 10th, but could not tie it again. Fieldhouse was placed on second to start the frame, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Jimenez sacrifice fly. After a strikeout, sophomore Kai Clark singled up the middle. Peeler ended the game with a groundout to Tate at shortstop.
East Carolina returns to Conference USA action this weekend for a key series at first-place UAB (29-11, 11-1 C-USA). UAB was one of just two C-USA schools to take the series from the Pirates last season. The teams play a 2:00 p.m. Saturday doubleheader and complete the set with a 1:00 p.m. Sunday game.