GREENVILLE, N.C. - Three errors and a pair of wild pitches by No. 13 East Carolina (2-3) led to three unearned runs as No. 10 South Carolina (4-0) took game one of a three-game non-conference series 6-2 Friday afternoon at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.
South Carolina starter Blake Cooper scattered four hits over seven strong innings allowing two runs to pick up his second win of the season. Cooper’s only mistake of the game was a 2-2 off-speed pitch to Corey Thompson, who sent a shot to right field for the Pirates’ only runs of the game. A trio of pitchers bridged the gap to John Taylor who got out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth to record the final out and then allowed one hit in the ninth for his first save of the season.
Seth Maness dropped to 0-2 on the year after allowing three runs (all earned) on seven hits in 4.1 innings with a pair of strikeouts. Shawn Armstrong allowed two unearned runs over 1.2 innings, while Sthil Sowers was touched for one run (unearned) on three hits in 2.2 innings. Patrick Somers got the final out of the ninth when Bobby Haney flied out to center field.
South Caroling jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top half of the second when Jeffrey Jones singled on a ball that went just under the glove of right fielder Devin Harris and ended up on second base scoring Nick Ebert from second. Ebert started the frame with a double down the left field line then cruised home on Harris’ misplay in right.
Robert Beary’s double to right center scored Scott Wingo to put the Gamecocks up 2-0 in the third. Wingo started it off with a single down the right field line then took second on Whit Merrifield’s ground out before crossing home on Beary’s second RBI of the season.
A pair of wild pitches from Armstrong helped South Carolina push the lead to 3-0 in the top half of the fifth. Merrifield singled up the middle to get things started extending his current hitting streak to 18 games before taking second Beary’s sac bunt. Christian Walker followed with a free pass putting runners at first and second. With two outs, Merrifield and Walker moved up on consecutive wild pitches to put the Gamecocks up 3-0.
In the fifth Thompson brought the Pirates within one, 3-2, when he blasted his second career home run off of Cooper scoring Jared Avchen, who was plunked earlier on a 3-0 count.
Leading 3-2 in the sixth innings, the Gamecocks quickly responded to ECU’s two runs in the fifth with a pair of their own. With runners on first and third with one out, Merrifield hit a slow chopper just in front of home plate. On the play, ECU pitcher Armstrong threw high of first base allowing Kyle Enders to score and Wingo to advance from first to third base. Wingo would eventually score to give South Carolina a 5-2 lead on a RBI fielder's choice by Walker.
Enders RBI double to right center pushed across the final run of the contest, giving South Carolina a 1-0 lead in the weekend series.
Offensively the Pirates could only muster six hits with Cam Freeman leading the way with a pair of singles. Dustin Harrington extended his current hit streak to 13 games with an infield single in the first.
The Pirates and Gamecocks will return to the diamond Saturday afternoon with a 2 p.m. (EST) first pitch scheduled.