GREENVILLE, N.C. – Cristen Aona hit a two-run walk-off home run to give East Carolina the 3-1 victory over N.C. State on Wednesday afternoon. It was Aona’s third two-run home run in the last four games. The win gives the Pirates, 30-11, the season sweep of N.C. State (20-20) and the program 30 wins for the sixth straight season.
Toni Paisley, 22-6, recorded the victory in the circle as she allowed six hits and struck out 14 batters, just one short of her career high. In the last three games, Paisley has recorded 37 strikeouts in just 20 innings of work. The victory was also the 47th of her career, putting her in sole possession of sixth-place on the ECU career chart.
N.C. State’s Mendy McKenzie also had a solid performance in the circle, allowing six hits and striking out five. The Wolfpack was led on offense Alyssa Allbritten who finished with two hits and Claudia Cooper who drove in the team’s only run.
The Pirates had a chance to score in the bottom of the first but could not convert. Angel Barrella led off with a single to right and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Charina Sumner. Jessica Johnson then walked to put runners on first and second with one out. Fly outs by Aona and Paisley followed to end the frame.
In the bottom of the second, ECU put the first two runners of the inning on but again failed to score. Sarah Bibee walked and Christina Merrida was hit by a pitch but a strikeout, groundout and pop out ended the threat.
In the top of the fifth, N.C. State mounted its first scoring chance as Bridget Desbois led off with a single to right field. Katie Mansilla came in to pinch run and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kristine Bechtholdt. After a strikeout, an infield single by Lauren Peters put runners at the corners with two outs. A pop out by Landon Warren then ended the threat and kept the game scoreless.
After the defensive hold, East Carolina broke through with a run in the bottom of the inning. Barrella tallied her second hit of the contest with a single up the middle and advanced to second on an error by the center fielder. Another Sumner sacrifice bunt moved Barrella to third and Johnson singled to plate Barrella for the 1-0 lead.
The Pirate lead did not last long as the Wolfpack knotted the score at 1-1 in the top of the sixth. Alyssa Ishibashi singled to right, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on Allbritten’s second single of the game. A single by Cooper then drove in Ishibashi and tied the score. Desbois followed by hitting into a fielder’s choice that left runners on the corners with two outs. Paisley then struck out Bechtholdt to end the inning.
Kaui Tom hit a two-out double for ECU in the bottom of the sixth but was left stranded. N.C. State then went down in order in the top of the seventh.
In the bottom of the frame, Barrella led off with her team-leading 23rd walk of the season and moved to second on Sumner’s third sacrifice bunt of the afternoon. Johnson then fouled out to the first baseman for the second out of the inning. Aona stepped to the plate and drilled the 3-1 pitch over the left field wall for the walk-off winner. It was the Pirates’ second walk-off victory of the season with the other coming on February 27 against Fordham.
East Carolina will be in action again tomorrow when the team travels to Elon for a single non-conference game beginning at 6 p.m.