GREENVILLE, N.C. - A two-run single by junior Marina Gusman-Brown in the fifth and a two-run double by senior Jessica Johnson in the sixth propelled East Carolina to a 4-0 victory over Virginia Tech on Senior Day. The Pirates finish the regular season with a 40-14 record while Virginia Tech ends at 27-27. For ECU, this season marks the fifth time in the last six that the program has reached the 40-win plateau.
Toni Paisley, 30-8, picked up the victory and her ninth solo shutout of the season. The 30 wins are the fourth-most in a season in program history, eight behind Jenny Parsons' 38 victories in 1992. Paisley's 33 complete games this season are also the sixth-most in a year in ECU history. Kenzie Roark, 21-17, suffered the loss for the Hokies as she gave up 11 hits and all four runs.
East Carolina's hit parade was led by Cristen Aona, who recorded three base knocks. Christina Merrida, Kaui Tom and Johnson all tallied two hits in the contest.
The Pirates had a scoring opportunity in the bottom of the first, but could not convert. Merrida and Aona hit consecutive one-out singles and advanced to second and third on a wild pitch. A pop out and groundout ended the inning.
In the bottom of the third, East Carolina mounted another threat as Charina Sumner and Angel Barrella received back-to-back walks to start the frame. A fly out and groundout put the runners on second and third with two outs before Johnson walked to load the bases. The Pirates again came up empty as a groundout ended the inning.
The Hokies had their best scoring chance in the top of the fourth, but could not take advantage. Jessica Everhart led off with a walk and one out later Whitney Davis was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. An infield single by Kristin Graham followed and loaded the bases. Paisley escaped the damage, getting Kim Jalm to ground into an inning-ending double play.
In the bottom of the fifth, East Carolina broke through and took a 2-0 lead. Merrida led off with a single and Aona and Johnson beat out bunts to load the bases with no down. Gusman-Brown attempted to put down a suicide squeeze, but missed and Merrida got caught in a rundown between third and home. Merrida beat the throw back to third base and on the next pitch Gusman-Brown stroked a single up the middle, driving in Merrida and Aona.
Virginia Tech put runners on first and third with two outs in the top of the sixth on an Everhart walk and Davis single to right. Paisley again escaped as Graham flew out to left to end the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, East Carolina tacked on its final two runs after two outs were recorded. Merrida reached on an error, stole second and went to third on an infield single by Aona. Jillian Gallagher pinch ran for Aona and stole second. Merrida and Gallagher both came in on Johnson's double to left center for the 4-0 lead.
Paisley allowed just one base runner in the seventh inning to seal the ECU victory.
The Conference USA Tournament begins on Thursday in El Paso, Texas. The Pirates will be either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed, depending on the result of this afternoon's Tulsa game.