GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina played a pair of close games against second-place UAB on Friday evening, but came up short twice as the Blazers won 1-0 and 5-3. In the opener, the teams combined for just seven hits, but and a solo home run by UAB's Erica Sisson in the third inning provided the contest's only run. During the nightcap, the Pirates (15-23, 3-8 C-USA) held 1-0 and 3-1 leads, but UAB (23-13, 9-2 C-USA) scored the game's final four runs to earn the victory. Pirate sophomore Jill Jelnick drove in two of the team's three runs on the day.
During the first contest, ECU freshman Sarah Christian took the tough-luck loss after throwing the best C-USA game of her career. She limited the Blazers to just three hits and one walk while striking out two. Lannah Campbell (10-4) picked up the win for UAB, holding the Pirates to four singles and no walks. She fanned seven in the complete-game performance.
The nightcap had Pirate freshman Courtney Smith throw the first four innings. She allowed two runs on seven hits and a walk to go along with two strikeouts. Christian (12-13) was saddled with the loss after giving up three runs on five hits in the remaining three frames. Leigh Streetman tossed the first three innings for the Blazers, allowing three runs on five hits and five walks. She fanned one. Amber Torres (5-3) entered for the remaining four frames and limited ECU to three hits and struck out a pair in the win.
In the opener, neither team registered a hit until the top of the third, when the Blazers scored the game's only run. After a strikeout started the frame, Sisson sent the first pitch of her at-bat over the wall in left to give UAB the advantage. It was the first extra-base hit of the season for Sisson.
ECU had a chance to answer in the bottom of the third, but could not convert. Junior Kai Clark was hit by the first pitch of the inning, only to be thrown out at second on a bunt by sophomore Alex Fieldhouse. After the fielder's choice, sophomore Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin singled to left center to put runners on first and second. Campbell ended the threat with a pop out and groundout.
The Pirates had another opportunity in the bottom of the fourth, but Campbell had the answer again. Senior Priscilla Velasquez led off with a single up the middle on the eighth pitch of her at-bat and was replaced by sophomore pinch runner Abby Wynne. Following a strikeout, sophomore Jordan Lewis reached on a fielding error by third baseman Kate Armstrong that put runners on first and second. Campbell struck out the next batter before a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position. Clark sent a long fly ball into center field, but Whitney Fletcher made the running catch to retire the side.
Both teams went quietly until the bottom of the sixth, when East Carolina left the tying run on base. Following a groundout that opened the frame, Velasquez singled off the glove of Campbell and into center field. A fielder's choice forced Velasquez out at second base and a strikeout ended the threat.
After Christian retired the Blazers in order in the seventh, Clark hit a one-out single into left field in the bottom of the frame. Campbell bounced back, getting Fieldhouse to ground into a double play to complete the victory.
In game two, East Carolina jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Sophomore Kristi Oshiro led off the contest with a triple to right field and scored on a single up the middle from Jelnick. After a pop out on a bunt attempt by Velasquez, Riggs walked to put runners on first and second. Lewis shot one back up the middle, but Streetman stuck out her glove, made the stop and threw to third for the force on Jelnick. Sophomore Jasmine Robbins singled just over the head of Armstrong at third, but Riggs broke for home and was thrown out at the plate by shortstop Heather Pearson to end the threat.
UAB knotted the game at 1-1 in the top of the third. Sisson led off with a single and was replaced by pinch runner Chandler Orr. A sacrifice bunt by Pearson moved Orr to second with one out before Fletcher singled to right to plate Orr for the tie. Catherine Crawford followed with a single to put runners on first and second with just one out. Smith worked her way out of the jam with a strikeout and fly out to Robbins in center.
The Pirates had an opportunity to retake the lead in the bottom of the frame, but could not convert. Jelnick led off with a walk, but was forced out at second on a bunt attempt by Velasquez. Following the fielder's choice, Riggs drew another free pass. Lewis grounded one toward Pearson, who tossed to Webster covering second, but second baseman Lauren Webster dropped the ball, filling the bases with one down. Streetman quickly ended the threat with a strikeout and groundout.
Following the defensive hold, the Blazers loaded the bases in the top of the fourth and failed to score. A fly out started the frame, but Webster and Armstrong recorded consecutive singles to put runners on first and second. A groundout by Sisson provided the second out before a walk to Pearson filled the bases. Smith capped the inning with Fletcher grounding out to Kaluhiokalani-Glackin.
East Carolina capitalized on the defensive momentum to go ahead 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth. Fieldhouse led off with a single to left and Kaluhiokalani-Glackin converted a 10-pitch at-bat into a walk. Oshiro followed with a bunt single that loaded the bases with no outs. Torres entered to pitch and Jelnick came through with her second RBI of the contest, reaching on a fielder's choice as Oshiro was forced out at second and Fieldhouse came home. With runners on the corners and one out, Velasquez hit a grounder to Pearson, who could not field it cleanly, allowing Kaluhiokalani-Glackin to score and leaving two on base. A foul out and groundout closed the frame.
The Blazers quickly answered in the top of the fifth and retied the game, this time at 3-3. Crawford led off with a home run to left center. After the long ball, Kayla Orr singled to right center and moved to second on a Mandy Lowman sacrifice bunt. Tiffany Smith entered to run for Orr and scored on a Kristen McGrath single to right center. Christian bounced back with a pop out and groundout to Velasquez at first to end the threat.
In the top of the sixth, UAB scored twice with two outs to go ahead 5-3. With two down and no runners on, Fletcher beat out an infield single and Crawford doubled to right center to drive in Fletcher. Kayla Orr followed with single to right and Crawford scored to make it a two-run cushion. A pop out to Oshiro provided the final out.
The Pirates left two more stranded in the bottom of the sixth and could not force the tie. Oshiro led off with a single to left and was forced out at second on a Jelnick fielder's choice. After a strikeout, Riggs singled to center to put two on, but a groundout left the pair on base.
Torres retired the first two East Carolina batters in the seventh before a walk to Fieldhouse. Torres retired pinch hitter Wynne on a groundout to seal the triumph.
The two teams complete the series Saturday with a 1:00 p.m. contest.