GREENVILLE, N.C. – Playing its first home contests in more than a month, East Carolina snapped a four-game losing streak with a sweep of UTEP on Saturday. The Pirates' offense came to life, leading the team to a 12-4 win in five innings and walking off with an 11-10 victory in the second contest. ECU's 23 runs during the doubleheader are more than the program has scored in any Conference USA series since pushing across 24 in three games at Southern Miss May 5-6, 2007.
In the opener, senior Suzanne Riggs and sophomore Jordan Lewis combined to drive in four runs and score five for the Pirates (12-17, 2-3 C-USA). In the second contest, a grand slam by Kayla Black gave UTEP (12-20, 2-6 C-USA) an 8-6 advantage and the Miners led 10-8 going into the bottom of the seventh. An RBI single by junior pinch hitter Cicely Lopez cut the deficit to one run and the game-winning score came home on an error by the right fielder following a sacrifice fly by junior Kai Clark.
Clark recorded a career-high three hits in the second contest and matched her personal best with three RBI. Freshman pitcher Sarah Christian (10-10) recorded the victories in both games to become just the 12th rookie in program history to reach double-digit wins. She has been credited with the victory in ECU's last five triumphs.
In the opener, Christian went all five innings, scattering eight hits and striking out three without walking a batter. The Miners' Colleen Hohman recorded two outs before giving way to Laura Ramos. Hohman surrendered one hit, four walks and three runs, one earned, and suffered the loss. Ramos tossed three-and-a-third, surrendering four runs, two earned, on three hits and a trio of free passes. Cynthia Villastrigo and Joanna Krienitz picked up the final two outs of the contest, combining to allow five runs on two hits and three walks.
Game two had ECU freshman Courtney Smith toss the first four-and-a-third frames, allowing nine runs, seven earned, on 11 hits and five walks. She fanned two. Christian came in for the final two-and-two-thirds to earn her second victory of the day. She allowed just one run, unearned, on two hits and an intentional walk. For UTEP, Krienitz lasted the initial two innings, giving up five runs, four earned, on five hits and a walk. Ramos came in and went two-and-two-thirds, issuing five walks and allowing three runs on four hits. Hohman (4-10) suffered her second loss of the day after throwing the final one-and-two-thirds of relief. She gave up three runs, two earned, on five hits and two walks while fanning a pair.
During the first contest, UTEP jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning as Camilla Carrera hit her NCAA-leading 20th home run of the campaign.
The Pirates responded in the bottom of the frame and took a 3-1 lead. Sophomore Jill Jelnick led off with a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by classmate Kristi Oshiro and scored on two illegal pitches. With one out and the bases clear, Riggs doubled to left field. After a pop out, Lewis sent a ground ball to third baseman Ashley Collazo, who had the ball bounce off her glove and into left center, allowing Riggs to score. Three consecutive walks to sophomores Alex Fieldhouse, Jasmine Robbins and Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin followed to force in a run and make it a 3-1 edge. Senior Priscilla Velasquez nearly increased the ECU lead, but center fielder Chelsea Troupe caught the fly ball, crashing into the wall.
East Carolina did extended its advantage in the bottom of the third, scoring twice to make it a 5-1 contest. Lewis led off with an infield single, moved to second on a Fieldhouse sacrifice bunt and came home on a double to right center by Robbins. After a groundout, Clark singled to center field to plate Robbins for a two-run advantage. Ramos avoided further damage with a fly out to center field as Troupe dove and made the grab of a flare off the bat of Jelnick.
In the top of the fourth, UTEP loaded the bases but was held off the board. Carrera led off with a single to center and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Black beat out an infield single to put runners on first and second with one out. Courtney Ware singled to left to fill the bases. Christian struck out Hohman and Ramos sent a hard shot toward right field, but Oshiro at second base dove, made the stop and threw to first for the inning-ending out.
The Miners made it a one-run deficit in the top of the fifth with another Carrera home run. After a groundout started the frame, Samantha Alvillar and Troupe hit back-to-back singles to put runners on first and second for Carrera, who deposited a Christian offering over the wall in center field. Christian quickly bounced back with a pair of groundouts to end the frame.
ECU answered with seven runs in the bottom of the inning to end the game due to the eight-run rule. Robbins led off reaching on a fielding error by Collazo. Kaluhiokalani-Glackin followed with a bunt and Collazo could not field it, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Villastrigo entered and her first pitch was wild, moving both runners up a base. Another wild pitch brought in Robbins before an illegal pitched forced in Kaluhiokalani-Glackin. Clark, Jelnick and Oshiro drew consecutive free passes to load the bases for Riggs with no outs. Riggs singled to left center to drive in two and make it a five-run advantage. Velasquez followed with a sacrifice bunt that moved Oshiro to third and Riggs to second with one out. Lewis doubled down the line in left field to bring home both runners. A groundout moved Lewis to third and she scored the game-ending run on a wild pitch by Krienitz.
In the second game, the Pirates jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Jelnick singled, moved to second on an Oshiro bunt, went to third on a fielding error by Krienitz and scored on a Velasquez sacrifice fly.
ECU tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the second without a hit plating any of the three. Fieldhouse started the inning with a single to left field. Robbins popped out to second, but Kaluhiokalani-Glackin beat out an infield single to put runners on first and second. A Clark single filled the bases before a Krienitz illegal pitch forced in Fieldhouse. Jelnick walked to reload the bases for Oshiro, who was hit by a pitch to bring home Kaluhiokalani-Glackin. A Riggs sacrifice fly delivered Clark. Krienitz avoided further trouble as Black dove and made a catch of a Velasquez fly ball in right center.
The Miners forced a tie with four runs in the top of the fourth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, a single to left field by Ware drove in the frame's first run. Black followed with a fielder's choice and shortstop Kaluhiokalani-Glackin's throw to home sailed high and allowed the second run to score. Charissa Bellesteros followed with a run-scoring single into right center. A groundout to Fieldhouse at third base by Ashley Eldridge plated the final run of the inning as Kayla Oranger grounded out to Oshiro to end the threat.
In the bottom of the frame, the Pirates regained the lead with Clark's first career triple. With two outs and Robbins on first following a fielder's choice, Kaluhiokalani-Glackin drew a walk. A passed ball moved the pair up a base before Clark's hit off the base of the wall in right center. Jelnick and Oshiro followed with walks, but a pop out to Ramos in the circle closed the frame.
The lead did not last long, however, as a two-out grand slam by Black in the top of the fourth put the Miners up 8-6. Troupe, Carrera and Ware came home on the blast by Black.
The Miners extended their lead to three in the top of the fifth on a Collazo sacrifice fly with one out. A ground out opened the frame, but a single by Alvillar, double by Troupe and intentional walk to Carrera loaded the bases. Christian entered for Smith and retired Collazo on the fly out to Robbins in center field. With Ware up to bat, Carrera was called out for leaving first base early to end the threat and keep it a three-run contest.
East Carolina got two runs back in the bottom of the fifth to make it a 9-8 game. Clark picked up her career-high third hit of the contest on a one-out single to right field, but was forced out at second on a Jelnick fielder's choice. Jelnick stole second and Oshiro tripled over the head of Ware in left on the ninth pitch of her at-bat to plate Jelnick. Riggs and Velasquez drew consecutive walks to fill the bases for Lewis. UTEP brought Hohman in to pitch and Lewis greeted her with an infield single to Alvillar at shortstop, plating Oshiro. A fielder's choice by Fieldhouse ended the threat.
The Pirates had a chance to even the score in the bottom of the sixth, but could not convert. Robbins led off with a double down the left-field line. After a strikeout and pop out, Jelnick reached on an infield single and Oshiro walked. With two outs and the bases loaded, Hohman ended the inning with a strikeout.
UTEP added another run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. ECU intentionally walked Carrera and Collazo followed with a single down the right-field line. Lewis picked up the ball but threw high to second base and as the ball sailed into left field, Carrera scored. Jelnick, who was playing left field, picked up the ball and threw to Kaluhiokalani-Glackin at second for the tag on Collazo to end the frame.
In the bottom of the seventh, ECU rallied with three runs for the walk-off victory. Velasquez led off with a single and was replaced by sophomore pinch runner Rebecca Lee, who was erased on a fielder's choice by Lewis. Fieldhouse followed with a walk to put runners on first and second with one out. Robbins was hit by a pitch to load the bases for pinch hitter Lopez. A single to left from Lopez made it a one-run contest. Clark followed with a fly ball to right field that Black dropped, allowing Fieldhouse and Robbins to score for the win.
The Pirates go for the series sweep Sunday with a 12:00 p.m. contest.