TEMPE, Ariz. - East Carolina used three home runs and solid pitching performances from junior Faith Sutton and senior Toni Paisley to defeat New Mexico State 8-5 Friday afternoon at the Wilson/DeMarini Invitational. The Pirates (13-4) got long balls from freshman Rebecca Lee, junior Suzanne Riggs and freshman Alex Fieldhouse. Fieldhouse finished the game with three runs batted in while Lee had two and junior Priscilla Velasquez added a pair.
Sutton (3-2) went the first five-and-a-third innings for East Carolina, allowing five runs on five hits. She tied her season high with eight strikeouts and walked only one batter. Paisley came in for the final inning-and-two-thirds, earning her second save of the season as she surrendered two hits and fanned three. The save was the seventh of Paisley's career, tying her for fifth on the Conference USA all-time list.
New Mexico State's Celisha Walker (0-2) got the start for the Aggies but only recorded two outs. She gave up three runs on four hits in her two-thirds of an inning. Alex Villalobos came in and threw the next three frames, allowing a run on two hits and two walks. Carissa Theis (two-thirds/two runs) and Kelsey Schueler (two-and-two-thirds/two runs) completed the Aggie pitching contingent.
The Pirates wasted little time getting on the board, scoring three runs in the top of the first. Freshman Kristi Oshiro led off with a single to right field and Lee followed with a home run to left field on a 1-2 pitch. With two outs, senior Sissy Jimenez doubled to the gap in left center and came home on a single up the middle by Velasquez. A strikeout by Fieldhouse after a 10-pitch battle ended the inning.
In the top of the third, ECU had another chance to add runs but could not push one across. Lee led off the inning with a walk and stole second, but a foul out to the warning track, strikeout and groundout closed the threat.
The Aggies (15-4) made the deficit 3-1 in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice fly by Kandis Jones. Amber Olive recorded the first hit of the game for New Mexico State on a single through the left side with one out. She stole second before a grounder by Kylie Randall to Fieldhouse at third base. Fieldhouse tried to retire Olive at third, but she beat the throw, putting runners on the corners with one out. Jones' sacrifice fly brought in Olive before a groundout to Oshiro at shortstop ended the frame.
ECU got the run back in the top of the fourth on a solo homer to left center by Fieldhouse. During the at bat, she hit a ball off the wall in left and one over the wall down the left-field line, but both landed foul.
In the bottom of the inning, the Aggies responded to make it 4-2 on a solo home run to center by Hoku Nohara. Sutton rebounded to strikeout the next three batters to end the inning.
The Pirates hit their third home run of the contest in the top of the fifth on a solo shot to right center by Riggs for a 5-2 lead. It was Riggs' team-leading third long ball of the season and the first time ECU had hit three homers in a game since last April at Houston. East Carolina tacked on another run during the frame with a two-out single up the middle by Velasquez. Following Riggs' homer, freshman Jordan Lewis drew a walk and advanced to second on a Jimenez groundout to shortstop. Velasquez then dropped the ball in front of a diving center fielder to plate Lewis.
New Mexico State made a comeback in the bottom of the sixth, scoring three times to make it a 6-5 game. Ashley Maroda, who had reached on a one-out double to right center, scored on a Nohara single for the first run. Pinch runner Kristi Covarrubia entered for Nohara, stole second base and scored on a home run to right field by Tiare Jennings. Paisley came in for Sutton and prevented further damage with a strikeout and foul out.
In the top of the seventh, ECU added a pair of insurance runs to make its advantage 8-5. With one out, Lewis reached on a throwing error by the third baseman and Jimenez was hit by a pitch. Freshman Taylor Megargel entered to pinch run for Jimenez. A groundout by Velasquez moved both runners up a base and brought up Fieldhouse. She came through again with a shallow single to center that drove in both runs.
The Aggies did not go down easily in the bottom of the inning, putting runners on first and second with two outs on singles by Olive and Jones. Paisley ended the threat and preserved the win with a groundout by Maroda.
East Carolina plays host and No. 9 Arizona State tonight at approximately 8:00 p.m.