KISSIMMEE, Fla. – In a game that saw four lead changes in the final two innings, Abby Wynne hit a game-winning sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh inning to send the East Carolina softball team to a 5-4 win over Fairfield in its final game of the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports on Sunday afternoon.
Jordan Lewis went 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBI, while Shelby Johnson went 2-for-4 with a stolen base and a run scored to lead the East Carolina’s (8-4) offensive attack.
Sarah Christian (6-1) pitched a complete game to earn the victory, surrendering four runs on nine hits while walking none and striking out two.
The game was an all-out pitcher’s duel for the first five frames, as Christian and Fairfield (1-2) starting pitcher Lauren Falkanger exchanged zeroes, while each allowed just three hits, respectively.
ECU’s best scoring chances came when it left runners on first and second in both the third inning and fourth innings, while Christian did not allow multiple base runners on at the same time until the top of the sixth inning, when the Stags caught the Pirates sleeping.
Fairfield put its first two runners on base to start the frame with a pair of infield singles, before dropping down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners over to second and third with one out. A ground ball to second baseman Kristi Oshiro was thrown home to nail the runner attempting to score from third, as the batter reached on a fielder’s choice and the Stags’ runner on second moved to third.
With the ball live, Fairfield’s runner on first took off for second base and drew a throw to the bag, where it was cut off and the runner from third slid around Wynne’s tag safely for the game’s first run.
ECU escaped the top half of the inning on the next batter, before Oshiro hit leadoff single and Alex Fieldhouse reached on a throwing error by Fairfield’s shortstop. Lewis then stepped in and sent an opposite field, three-run shot over the left field fence to give the Pirates its first lead of the game, 3-1.
The homer was the 17th of Lewis' career and now puts her in a tie with Kaui Tom (2007-10) for the eighth most in program history.
Down to their last strike in the top of the seventh inning, the Stags hit a 1-2 pitch into left center for a two-run double to tie the game at four. The subsequent batter slapped a single down the left field line, scoring the runner from second to put Fairfield back on top, 4-3.
The Pirates escaped further damage and came up to bat in the bottom of the seventh with one last chance to swing the momentum in their favor. Meredith Mitchell led off the inning and sent a triple over the centerfielder’s head, and scored on an error by the Stags’ cutoff man who dropped the incoming throw from the outfield fence, tying the game, 4-4.
With one out, Johnson ripped a single into right and stole second base – her 11th swiped bag of the season. A wild pitch moved her over to third, and Oshiro drew a walk to set the stage for Wynne, who drove a high fly ball to left, deep enough for Johnson cross home plate and give East Carolina the 5-4 come-from-behind victory.
East Carolina will return home and begin an eight-game homestand next Saturday, March 1 when it hosts Tennessee Tech in a doubleheader at the ECU Softball Stadium.