WILMINGTON, N.C. – East Carolina used 17 runs during its Wednesday doubleheader to top UNC Wilmington 10-2 in six innings and 7-1. The Pirates (15-17) tallied 15 hits, but buoyed their offense with 15 stolen bases and nine errors by the Seahawks (6-26). ECU's offense has been rolling in its last six games, pushing across 51 runs, an average of 8.5 per contest.
Providing much of the Pirate offense during the doubleheader was sophomore Jill Jelnick, who matched her career high with three runs scored in the opener and set a personal best with three runs batted in during the second contest. Senior Priscilla Velasquez also chipped in with three RBI during the doubleheader.
In the opener, freshman Courtney Smith (3-7) earned the win, throwing all six innings and allowing five hits and three walks. She also set a career high with four strikeouts. UNCW's Amanda Davenport (5-12) took the loss after going six innings and surrendering 10 runs, four earned, on eight hits and four walks.
The nightcap had freshman Sarah Christian (12-10) pick up the victory, throwing four innings and scatting three hits and a free pass. She became the ninth freshman pitcher to win 12 or more games with the Pirates and is now tied for the Conference USA victory lead. Smith entered for the next two frames, giving up one run on a hit and two walks. Velasquez pitched the final inning and fanned two batters in retiring all three batters she faced. She had not thrown in college since tossing one-and-two thirds against Virginia on Feb. 8, 2009, during the first weekend of her ECU career. Casey Rowland (1-14) suffered the setback in the complete-game effort, allowing seven runs, one earned, on seven hits and five walks.
During the first game, East Carolina took a 1-0 lead in the initial inning. Jelnick started the game with an infield single and stole second base. After a strikeout, sophomore Jordan Lewis rolled a ball toward shortstop Lauryn Buckworth, who threw high to first base, putting runners on the corners with one out. A sacrifice fly to center field by Velasquez plated Jelnick and gave the Pirates the lead. Sophomore Jasmine Robbins was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with two outs, but a pop out to the catcher ended the threat.
The ECU lead did not last long, however, as the Seahawks evened the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the first. Olivia Poplin led off with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Smith struck out Kelsey Eddinger, but Jordan Critcher sent a line drive to sophomore shortstop Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin, who dropped the ball and had it bounce into left center, allowing Poplin to score. A single up the middle put runners on first and second with two outs, but a foul out closed the frame.
In the top of the third, the Pirates regained the advantage with a two-out error by UNC Wilmington. Sophomore Kristi Oshiro opened the frame with a single through the left side and stole second base. A pair of groundouts to Buckworth left Oshiro on third with two down. Robbins was hit by a pitch again and with runners on the corners, Robbins took off for second. Catcher Ashley Shingleton threw toward third base, but nobody was covering the bag, the ball sailed into left field and Oshiro came home. A lineout to Davenport provided the third out.
Again, UNC Wilmington immediately answered with a run in the bottom of the frame. With two outs and the bases clear, two singles and two walks forced in Eddinger, who started the rally with an infield single, to knot the contest at two. After falling behind Kristen Jernigan in the count 3-0, Smith bounced back, retiring Jernigan on a groundout.
The Pirates took the lead again in the top of the fourth with three unearned runs to go ahead 5-2. After a groundout opened the frame, sophomore Rebecca Lee reached on a fielding error by Jernigan at third base and stole second. Kaluhiokalani-Glackin reached on an infield single that moved Lee to third base. Kaluhiokalani-Glackin stole second to put runners on second and third for Jelnick, who reached on a fielder's choice as Daniela Torres at second threw home, but Lee slid in safely. After Jelnick stole second, Oshiro hit a grounder to Buckworth, who threw home to try and retire Kaluhiokalani-Glackin, but she slid in safely and the ball bounced away from Shingleton, allowing Jelnick to also score for the three-run cushion. A lineout and fly out allowed Davenport to avoid further damage.
East Carolina tacked on another run in the top of the fifth to make it a 6-2 contest. With two outs and nobody on base, junior Kai Clark walked and moved to third on a single to right field by Lee. As Lee took off for second, Shingleton threw back to third, but the throw bounced into left field and Clark came home. A groundout to Critcher at first closed the frame.
In the top of the sixth, the Pirates put the game out of reach with four more runs for the 10-2 final. Jelnick singled and stole second before an Oshiro groundout. An infield single by Lewis put runners on the corners for Velasquez, who singled to left field to plate Jelnick. A Robbins single delivered Lewis for an 8-2 advantage. With Velasquez on third, Robbins stole second. Freshman pinch hitter Sara Pacioni drew a walk and the fourth ball was a wild pitch that brought home Velasquez. Robbins took third on the wild offering and Pacioni attempted to steal second, but was caught in a rundown. Pacioni extended the rundown long enough for Robbins to score the game's final run. Clark walked, but a groundout ended the inning.
Smith retired the Seahawks in order in the sixth to end the game due to the eight-run rule.
In game two, ECU took a quick lead again, going ahead 2-0 in the top of the first. Jelnick started the game with a walk, but was erased on an Oshiro fielder's choice. Lewis followed with a single to right field that bounced past Shingleton, who was in right for the second game, and rolled to the wall. Oshiro scored and Lewis moved to third on the play. Velasquez's second sacrifice fly of the doubleheader, this one to right field, brought home Lewis for a two-run lead. Rowland ended the inning catching a pop out in the circle.
UNC Wilmington mounted a two-out threat in the bottom of the first, but was held off the board. Eddinger walked and Critcher singled to center, but Buckworth grounded out to Jelnick at second to halt the rally.
The Pirates added two more runs in the second, helped by a pair of UNCW errors. Junior Cicely Lopez reached on a one-out fielding error by shortstop Camry Wagner, but a fielder's choice by sophomore Abby Wynne left a runner on first with two down. Wynne stole second and Lee walked before a wild pitch moved the runners up a base. Jelnick came through with a single up the middle that Poplin at second dove for and made the stop, but Jelnick beat the throw to first and Wynne scored. Jelnick took off for second base, but catcher Kimmie Stewart's throw sailed into center field and Lee came home on the play. A groundout to Wagner at shortstop ended the threat.
In the third, ECU tacked on one more for a 5-0 edge. With two outs and nobody on, Robbins was hit by a pitch for the fourth time of the day and stole second base. Clark came through with a single to right center that drove in Robbins before a pop out closed the frame.
The Seahawks got a run back in the bottom of the fifth to make it a 5-1 contest. Katie Houmard opened the frame with a walk before Shingleton put down a bunt, but touched the ball out of the batter's box and was called out. Pinch hitter Stacey Pinno followed with another free pass and Torres singled to center to fill the bases. Eddinger hit into a fielder's choice as Oshiro at shortstop fielded the ball and threw to third for the force, but Houmard came home on the play. Smith avoided further damage as Critcher swung at the first pitch and flew out to Lewis in right center.
East Carolina answered in the top of the sixth with two runs of its own to go ahead 7-1. Clark reached on a fielding error by Torres at third and Lopez followed with a bunt single. A sacrifice bunt by Wynne moved the pair up a base. Lee grounded out to second, but Jelnick doubled to left center to plate Clark and Lopez. Oshiro walked to keep the frame going, but a fly out to center ended the frame.
Smith retired the Seahawks in order in the sixth before Velasquez's perfect seventh frame sealed the victory.
The Pirates return to action this weekend with a key three-game Conference USA series at UCF (22-10, 3-3 C-USA). The teams play a doubleheader starting at 1:00 p.m. Saturday and finish the set Sunday with a 12:00 p.m. contest. Last season in Greenville, the Knights took two of the three contests.
-- Freshman Courtney Smith earned her first victory since Feb. 25 against SIU Edwardsville.
-- Sophomores Jill Jelnick and Kristi Oshiro, the one and two hitters in the lineup, combined to score five runs and draw two walks during the doubleheader. In the last five games, the due has scored 14 runs scored and pick up 12 free passes.
-- Jelnick matched her career high with three runs in the first game and had scored two or more in four-straight contests.
-- With a run in each game, Oshiro has now crossed home in seven-straight games.
-- Freshman Sara Pacioni recorded her first career assist in the opener, throwing out Kristen Jernigan at first base in the bottom of the sixth.
-- Sophomore Jasmine Robbins was hit by a pitch three times in the first game, the most by a Conference USA player this season
-- The Pirates have won 14 of the last 15 meetings with UNC Wilmington.
-- Against in-state competition, ECU has won 19 of the last 23 contests.
-- East Carolina batters drew nine walks during the doubleheader to bring the team's total to 32 free passes in the last five contests, an average of 6.4 per matchup.
-- The 12 stolen bases for the Pirates in the opener were the most by a Conference USA club this season.