AUSTIN, Texas - The East Carolina softball team picked up its second NCAA Tournament victory in program history with a 3-0 win over Iona Friday evening at Red and Charline McCombs Field. Senior Marina Gusman-Brown drove in the game-winning run and junior Sissy Jimenez followed with a two-run home run during the Pirates’ (43-17) three-run fourth inning. Sophomore Faith Sutton allowed just two hits in throwing her fourth-straight shutout.
Sutton (13-7) recorded the win as she gave up the pair of base knocks and two walks. She fanned five. Sarah Jackson (18-8) suffered the loss for Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion Iona (28-26) as she allowed five hits, one walk and two hit batters while striking out six.
The Gaels registered the first hit of the game in the bottom of the third on a Melanie Gettins one-out single to right field. Tierney Markou entered to pinch run and was caught stealing by freshman catcher Kai Clark for the second out of the frame. A strikeout ended the inning.
East Carolina scored all three of its runs in the top of the fourth. Senior Christina Merrida led off beating out an infield single and advanced to second on a throwing error by the second baseman. A sacrifice bunt by classmate Vanessa Moreno moved Merrida to third. Gusman-Brown then sent a ground ball to the shortstop, who tried to throw out Merrida at the plate, but she slid in safely. Jimenez followed with her fourth career long ball to right field.
Iona’s Tessa Earley led off the bottom of the inning with a walk, but a strikeout and pair of pop-outs left her stranded at first.
The Gaels had their best scoring chance in the bottom of the fifth inning as Allyssa James led off with a double just out of the reach of a diving Merrida in center field. Amy Metcalfe entered to pinch run for James. Erin Kyle followed with a fly-out to right field that advanced Metcalfe to third base with one down. After a lineout to senior Charina Sumner at second base, Gettins drew a walk to put runners on the corners. Sutton escaped the damage by retiring Chelsea Sheehan on a groundout to Jimenez at first base.
In the top of the sixth, the Pirates had another chance to push across a run, but could not convert. Jimenez was hit by a pitch with one out, and after a strikeout, senior Cristen Aona singled to left center. A pop-out by sophomore pinch hitter Suzanne Riggs closed the frame.
Sutton sent down Iona in order in the final two frames to preserve the victory.