RALEIGH, N.C. – A pinch-hit single by sophomore Suzanne Riggs gave East Carolina a 1-0 victory in eight innings over rival N.C. State in the opener of Wednesday’s doubleheader. In the second contest, the Pirates used the first two home runs of junior Sissy Jimenez’s career to down the Wolfpack 7-0. After losing the first five games of the series to N.C. State, ECU (25-14) has won the past five meetings with the Wolfpack (24-19).
Jimenez finished the day with three hits, including two home runs, three runs batted in and two runs scored. Freshman Kai Clark also hit a homer in the second game.
In the opener, junior Toni Paisley (18-8) earned the victory as she allowed only four hits and struck out 10 while not walking a batter. It was Paisley’s 13th victory in her past 14 decisions and the 33rd shutout of her career, putting her in sole possession of second on the East Carolina all-time list. Lindsay Campana (16-7) took the tough-luck loss for N.C. State as she gave up six hits and three walks. She matched Paisley with 10 whiffs.
Sophomore Faith Sutton (7-6) picked up the shutout win in the second game as she went all seven innings and allowed just two hits. She also struck out five. Stephanie Call (6-7) suffered the loss as she lasted four-and-a-third frames. She allowed six runs, five earned, on nine hits. Morgan Peeler gave up the final run of the game as she threw the last two-and-two-thirds.
In the first game, East Carolina loaded the bases in the top of the second, but could not push across a run. Senior Kaui Tom started the inning with a walk. After a strikeout, Jimenez singled off the outstretched glove of second baseman Alyssa Ishibashi and into right field, putting runners on first and second with one out. Senior Vanessa Moreno followed with a fielder’s choice that forced Tom out at third and left runners on first and second. The Pirates then loaded the bases as senior Nicole Jordan reached on an Ishibashi fielding error. Senior Marina Gusman-Brown struck out swinging to end the threat.
N.C. State recorded its first hit of the contest in the bottom of the third when Ishibashi singled to right field. Paisley struck out Lauren Peters before Landon Warren put down a sacrifice bunt that moved Ishibashi to second. Breanna Andrews popped out to Paisley to close the inning.
Neither team had another runner reach second base until the bottom of the fifth inning. Ishibashi hit a one-out infield single. With two down, Warren hit a ground ball to Tom, who tried to force Ishibashi out at second, but the throw was late and both runners were safe. Paisley retired Andrews on a line drive for the third out.
The Wolfpack had a chance to score in the bottom of the sixth but did not convert. Bridget Desbois reached on a fielding error by Tom with one out. Krystal Hawkins entered to pinch run and stole second base before Call struck out swinging. A groundout by Alyssa Allbritten to Tom ended the N.C. State threat.
In the bottom of the seventh, N.C. State’s Kristine Bechtholdt led off with a single to left field. Samantha Melton came in to pinch run and was moved over to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Ishibashi. Pinch hitter Allison Presnell struck out swinging before Warren went down looking.
East Carolina broke through with the game-winning run in the top of the eighth. Senior Charina Sumner hit a one-out infield single and went to second on a groundout by classmate Cristen Aona. With two down, Tom drew a walk to bring up Riggs, who singled up the middle on a 1-2 pitch to drive in Sumner. Jimenez hit a hard grounder to Ishibashi, who made the play to end the inning.
Paisley retired the Wolfpack in order in the bottom of the frame to close the game.
In the second contest, Jimenez gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the top of the second as she led off with her first career home run off the batting cage roof deep over the wall center field.
N.C. State had its best scoring chance in the bottom of the fourth when it put a runner on third. Allbritten hit a one-out double down the left field line and advanced to third on a groundout by Desbois, but was left stranded after a Bechtholdt strikeout.
In the bottom of the fifth, East Carolina broke the game open with five runs to take a 6-0 advantage. Sumner led off with a double to center field and advanced to third on a single up the middle by senior Christina Merrida. After a strikeout, consecutive singles by Aona and Tom brought in Sumner and Merrida. Aona also scored on the Tom hit when the right fielder made an error, giving ECU a 4-0 advantage. Jimenez followed with her second long ball of the day that drove in Tom for the final runs of the frame.
Clark provided the last run of the contest as she homered to center field to lead off the sixth.
Sutton sealed the Pirate victory by sending down the Wolfpack in order in the sixth and seventh frames.
East Carolina returns to Conference USA action this weekend as UTEP (26-14, 8-4 C-USA), one of three squads tied with the Pirates for second in the league, comes to Greenville. The teams play a doubleheader Saturday starting at 1:00 p.m. and finish the three-game series Sunday with a 12:00 p.m. contest. Head coach Tracey Kee will be going for the 600th win of her career as tonight’s two victories gave her 599.