TEMPE, Ariz. – A day after taking a 3-0 lead and falling to New Mexico State, East Carolina completed a comeback of its own Sunday morning against Valparaiso, rebounding from a 2-0 deficit to top the Crusaders 5-3. The Pirates (10-13) scored three times in the top of the fifth to take the lead as sophomore Kristi Oshiro drove in classmate Rebecca Lee for the game-winning run. Freshman Sarah Christian earned the win, throwing the final four innings and limiting Valparaiso (11-8) to four hits and one run.
Freshman Courtney Smith started in the circle and went the first three innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on three hits and a walk. She matched her career high with three whiffs during the contest. Christian tossed the last four frames, allowing a home run and a hit batter to go along with a strikeout. Alex Lagesse (5-4) took the loss, allowing five runs, two earned, on nine hits and a pair of walks. She fanned three and hit one.
The Crusaders jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. A fielding error allowed Lindsey Norway to reach, but she was erased on a fielder's choice by Jessie Marinec. Sara Strickland followed with a double off the wall in right center to drive in Marinec. Smith rebounded with a groundout and fly out to end the threat and keep it a one-run game.
In the bottom of the second, Valparaiso made it a 2-0 lead as Brittany Duncan hit a one-out solo home run to center field.
After retiring the first seven Pirates, Lagesse surrendered a hit and run in the top of the third. Sophomore Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin recorded the first ECU hit with a one-out triple down the left-field line and came home on a groundout to shortstop by Lee. Another groundout closed the frame.
Valparaiso had a chance to answer in the bottom of the frame, but a double play kept it a one-run deficit for the Pirates. Norway led off with a single to left. After a strikeout, Strickland walked to put runners on first and second with one down. Lagesse rolled a ball toward the right side, but second baseman Oshiro dove for the ball, made the stop and threw to senior first baseman Priscilla Velasquez for the out. Norway was trying to go from second to home and Velasquez threw to catcher Lee, who applied the tag on Norway for the inning-ending double play.
Following the defensive hold, the Pirates knotted the game at 2-2 in the top of the fourth. Oshiro led off with a single off the glove of a leaping Marinec at second base. A sacrifice bunt by sophomore Alex Fieldhouse moved Oshiro to second. Senior Suzanne Riggs followed with a roller to Lagesse in the circle and she could not make the play, putting runners on the corners with one out. With sophomore Jordan Lewis at bat, Riggs took off for second and slid in safely. Catcher Angie Doerffler's throw bounced into center field, allowing Oshiro to come home for the tie. Strickland, the center fielder, retrieved the ball and got Riggs caught in a rundown between second and third. Riggs was eventually tagged out to clear the bases with two outs. Lewis and Velasquez hit back-to-back singles, but Lagesse avoided further damage with a groundout.
East Carolina took its first lead of the game in the top of the fifth with three runs to make it a 5-2 game. A groundout started the frame, but Lee and sophomore Jill Jelnick hit consecutive singles to put runners on first and second. Oshiro came through with a single to center that drove in Lee and gave the Pirates a one-run edge. Fieldhouse drew a walk to load the bases for Riggs, who turned an 11-pitch at-bat into a run as third baseman Joylyn Ichiyama-Drewry could not handle the ground ball. After a strikeout, Velasquez delivered another hit with a single to left that plated Oshiro. Fieldhouse also tried to come home, but was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
Valparaiso got a run back in the bottom of the fifth on a solo home run by Amanda Wisniewski to open the frame. Following a Norway groundout, Marinec singled to left, but was left stranded by a foul out and groundout.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Crusaders had another chance to cut into the deficit, but were held off the scoreboard. Jordan Rutkowski led off with a single to right center. Ichiyama-Drewry flew out to right center, but Duncan was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with one out. Pinch runner Hayley Bridwell entered to run for Duncan and was out when Kelsey Phalen hit into a fielder's choice, leaving runners on the corners with two down. Wisniewski grounded out to Oshiro to end the threat and leave the pair stranded.
Christian sent down Valparaiso in order in the seventh to complete the victory.
The Pirates return to action Tuesday with a 5:00 p.m. contest at rival No. 23 North Carolina (17-7).