Pirates Drop C-USA Tournament Opener

PEARL, Miss. - Sixth-seed Houston (26-30) scored five runs on seven hits in the top of the ninth inning erasing a three-run deficit to claim an 8-5 victory over third-seeded East Carolina (37-19) Wednesday night in game three of the 2011 Conference USA Championships presented by Trustmark at Trustmark Park.

Second baseman Ryan Still and shortstop Chase Jensen led a 14-hit Cougar attack with three hits each while right fielder Caleb Ramsey, left fielder Joel Ansley and third baseman Codey Morehouse had two hits apiece. Jordan Mannisto (4-3) picked up the win after giving up a pair of runs on four hits and a walk while striking out four in 5.0 innings out of the bullpen.

Trailing 5-3 heading into the final frame, things did not start off especially well for Houston as Pirates' reliever Brad Mincey got a ground-ball out to start things off. From there, however, pinch hitter Jonathan Davis got the Cougar rally going with a double to left center and Jensen followed with a two-bagger to the same spot to cut the deficit to one. The consecutive doubles were two of four-straight hits for Houston as Ansley recorded an RBI-single to right knotting the game at five and chasing Mincey from the game.

Catcher John Cannon greeted new Pirates hurler Seth Simmons rudely by roping a base hit to right to put runners on the corners and Morehouse drove in what proved to be the winning run with a sacrifice bunt to first. Appling followed with an RBI-single to right central to pad the lead and later scored on a wild pitch to account for the final score.

Lost in the outcome was a solid relief effort by Mincey (5-4), who was tagged with the loss despite holding the Cougars scoreless from late in the fourth until the top of the ninth. He finished the day giving up three runs on five hits and a pair of walks while punching out a game-high seven batters.

Houston drew first blood in the contest, breaking open a scoreless game after three with a three-spot in the top of the fourth. Jensen and Ansley opened the frame with consecutive singles and Cannon followed with a walk to load the bases. Following a foul-ball pop-up for the first out of the inning, Appling earned the first RBI of the night the hard way as he took a Shawn Armstrong offering off the elbow to reach base via hit by pitch. Still made it 2-0 with an RBI-single to center and Ramsey lifted a sacrifice fly to left to cap the scoring in the stanza.

Cougars starter Matt Creel kept the Pirates off the scoreboard over the first four innings, but ECU second baseman Mike Ussery got things going for the listed home team with a single down the left field line. Right fielder Phillip Clark followed with a walk, and two-hole hitter Corey Thompson tied things up with a three-run homer to left center in the ensuing at-bat.

The blast ended Creel's outing and Mannisto got off to a rocky start as East Carolina centerfielder Trent Whitehead and catcher Zach Wright came up with back-to-back singles, Ben Fultz drove in Whitehead with a single and Wright later scored on a wild pitch to put the Pirates on top 5-3 and set up the ninth-inning dramatics.

All nine of the ECU batters in the starting line-up had at least one hit in the loss, including two-hit performances by Thompson and Wooten. Armstrong gave up three runs on five hits with three walks while fanning five in a 3.1-inning start, and Simmons went the final two-third when he allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits.

The Pirates will be back on the diamond Thursday afternoon when they take on seventh-seed Tulane at 5 p.m. (EDT).

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  • by Darren Location: Kill Devil Hills on May 26, 2011 at 06:04 AM
    Billy Godwin needs to be fired. He has had a lack of discipline when it comes to his team. I miss the days back when Keith Leclair and Gary Overton were coaching. They did'nt put up with nonsense from their players unlike Godwin. I can't beleive where the players have been playing lazy and slacking off. Plus Billy has made some of the dumbest decisions when it comes to who to pitch in certain situations. Why don't ECU get Tommy Eason is what I don't understand. Look at what Eason has done with Pitt. He has brought them to higher levels than ever. Tommy would very easily bring ECU to a college world series and maybe even a national championship. Leclair certainly would have brought the national title back to Greenville if it was'nt for that awful thing called ALS. If they don't fire Billy then I'll stop making trips to Greenville going to the baseball games and stick with just going to football games. I'm just sick of the shortfalls of Omaha, just plain sick of it.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 26, 2011 at 09:27 AM in reply to Darren
      bring the national title "back" to greenville??? have they ever won it to be able to bring it "back" to greenville? the college world series started in 1947 and ECU has never even been there let alone won it...maybe they won something before then, please fill me in
      • reply
        by Dave on May 26, 2011 at 10:48 AM in reply to
        The ECU chess team may have won a National Title in the 1950's.
      • reply
        by Sam on May 26, 2011 at 12:27 PM in reply to
        ECU won the National Title in baseball in 1961. Also the men's swimming team won one back in the 80's. I know it's been a long time but it has happened.
    • reply
      by Sam on May 26, 2011 at 12:26 PM in reply to Darren
      Darren, as much as I respect you a lot and agree with you, having a lot of things in common that you have, I completely disagree about firing Billy Godwin. Billy has done just as much for ECU if not more than any of the previous coaches. He knows what he is doing. I'd be willing to bet he was fussing like crazy at some of his guys, especially John Wooten when Simmons made an awful throw then Wooten practically walked to the baseball not anticipating that guy would go to 3rd. It's some of these players that better get their act together. There's too much talent on this team for them to lose this much, and the pitchers, esp Shawn Armstrong better stop throwing so wild and out of control.
  • by Anonymous on May 26, 2011 at 05:11 AM
    Fire Billy Godwin!!!!!!!!!!
  • by Jimbo Location: NC on May 26, 2011 at 04:14 AM
    Pretty gutless effort.
  • by JTG on May 25, 2011 at 08:52 PM
    WOO HOO they won't be talking smack in Greenville tonight.

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