GREENVILLE, N.C. – A two-run single in the fourth inning from junior Kai Clark and the first Conference USA shutout of freshman pitcher Sarah Christian’s career lifted East Carolina to a 3-0 victory over Marshall on Senior Day Sunday afternoon. Senior Suzanne Riggs drove in a run in the fifth and threw out the Thundering Herd’s Amanda Lara at the plate to end the top of the first to help preserve Christian’s blanking.
The Pirates (23-26, 9-11 C-USA) have won seven of their last eight games and finished the season 15-6 at home and 8-3 versus C-USA foes in Greenville.
Christian (17-15) held the Thundering Herd to six hits and one walk in the complete game. Her only strikeout was fanning pinch hitter Victoria Marvin looking to end the contest. Christian’s 17 wins this season are the fourth most in a season by a rookie in East Carolina program history. She trails only Toni Paisley (21/2007), Jami Bendle (19/1995) and Jill Rowlands (18/1994). Marshall’s Andi Williamson (20-12) suffered the setback, allowing three runs, one earned, on six hits and four walks. She fanned seven in six innings of work.
Marshall (31-20, 12-9 C-USA) mounted the initial threat of the afternoon in the top of the first, but Riggs’ toss home kept the visitors off the scoreboard. Alianna Telles singled to left to open the game and was replaced by pinch runner Lara, who moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a passed ball. Jazmine Valle hit a fly ball to left with one down and Lara tried to score, but was gunned down by Riggs.
ECU had its first scoring opportunity in the bottom of the second, but failed to convert. With two outs, sophomore Alex Fieldhouse drew a walk and Clark singled to right, but a groundout to Valle at third allowed Williamson to escape.
In the top of the fourth, the Thundering Herd put two on with two outs as Bri Anna Hope singled through the left side and Jessica Hughes dropped down a bunt single. Christian’s first pitch to Alysia Hively was sent toward right center, but sophomore second baseman Kristi Oshiro dove and made the catch to strand the pair.
Following the defensive hold, East Carolina used two Marshall errors to take a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the inning. Sophomore Jordan Lewis started the frame reaching on a Valle throwing error. Riggs followed with a bunt that Williamson fielded and threw to first, but second baseman Ashley Gue, who was covering the bag, dropped the toss, putting runners on first and second with no outs. A sacrifice bunt by Fieldhouse moved the pair up a base before Clark singled up the middle to drive in both. A strikeout and groundout ended the scoring.
The Pirates added another run in the bottom of the fifth to go ahead 3-0 on a two-out double by Riggs. A single down the left-field line by sophomore Jill Jelnick started the inning and she moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior Priscilla Velasquez. Sophomore Jasmine Robbins struck out swinging, but the pitch bounced in to home and Robbins took off for first base. Marshall catcher Rebecca Gamby faked the throw to first and Jelnick took off for third. Gamby threw to Valle and Jelnick was tagged out, but Robbins was safe at first with two outs. Robbins stole second and went to third a throwing error by Gamby, as her throw bounced into left center. Lewis walked to put runners on the corners and Riggs doubled to left center to drive in Robbins. Williamson ended the inning with a strikeout.
Christian retired 10 of the final 12 Thundering Herd hitters to earn her second career shutout and first since blanking Cal State Fullerton on March 6. Telles doubled to right center with two outs in the fifth and pinch hitter Emileigh Cooper walked with two down in the seventh, but a foul out ended the fifth and the Marvin strikeout concluded the game.
East Carolina has nearly a week off before returning to action Saturday, May 5, at Memphis. The teams play a doubleheader starting at 2:00 p.m. ET.