GREENVILLE, N.C. - Brandon Henderson belted his fifth home run of the season and drove in three runs, while Justin Bristow worked seven strong innings for the third consecutive outing to help East Carolina (13-4) to its 12th consecutive win and a series sweep over Rhode Island (5-8) at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium Sunday afternoon.
Bristow, who improved to 3-0 on the season, allowed four runs (two earned) on four hits with three strikeouts and two walks. After facing eight batters in the first inning and giving up three runs, Bristow settled in retiring 18 of the next 22 Ram batters faced allowing a double (second inning), single (third inning), walk (sixth) and Kenny Burns reached on an fielding error in the seventh.
Josh Ruhlman faced one batter recording a strike out, while Daniel Holder allowed one hit to close out the eighth frame. Bailey Daniels made his third appearance of the season working the ninth inning recording a walk and a strikeout.
Nick Greenwood lasted 4 2/3 innings allowing seven runs on 10 hits with six walks and two strikeouts and dropped to 2-2 on the year. Three pitchers were used in mop-up duty with Jamie Degidio (1.1 IP, 1 BB, 1 K), Ken Graveline (1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) and Mark Fraser (1 IP, 1 H, 1 K) finishing the final 3 1/3 innings.
Tied at three in the fifth inning, the Pirates pushed four across to take a commanding 7-3 lead. Corey Kemp singled to left to start the frame then moved to third on Kyle Roller’s double down the left field line. Dustin Harrington drove in his lone run of the game when he reached on an infield single that scored Kemp. Jamie Ray singled with one out pushing home Roller and advancing Harrington to second. Harrison Eldridge followed with a walk to load the bases for Ryan Wood, who reached on and error that scored Ray and Harrington.
Rhode Island jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Zoey Angulo drew a walk then moved to second when Mike O’Malley was plunked by a Bristow curve ball. Zach Zaneski followed with a single through the left side scoring Angulo and putting runners at first and second with no outs. Both runners moved up 90 feet when Shaun Hagey grounded out to Bristow and then scored on a throwing error by Wood on Rob Deveney’s at-bat.
The Pirates plated a run in the bottom of the first cutting into the lead, 3-1. Eldridge, who saw his batting average reach .460 on the day, continued his hot hitting by singling to right field. Wood reached on a fielder’s choice. Stephen Batts walked and Henderson singled through the left side driving in his first run of the game.
In the third inning, ECU knotted the game at three on Henderson’s two-run shot to left field. Eldridge drew an opening frame walk then swiped his 17th base of the season before touching home on Henderson’s home run.
Rhode Island scored in the seventh drawing the score to 7-4 when Burns came home on O’Malley’s ground out to short. Burns reached second on an error then moved to third on Angulo’s ground out.
The Pirates tacked on two more runs in the eight making the score 9-4. Henderson collected his third hit of the game, pushing his season average to .400, when he singled through the left side. Kemp followed by being hit by Fraser pitch on the hands just before the Rams pitching change. Trent Ashcraft, who pinch ran for Henderson, advanced to third on Drew Schieber’s single to right and then scored along with Kemp when Schieber was caught in a run down.
ECU will continue its 13-game home stand when they welcome in Elon for a 6 p.m. first pitch on Tuesday night.
· ECU extended its current winning streak to 12 games.
· Ryan Wood had his 14-game hitting streak snapped after going 0-for-4 with an RBI, run cored and a walk.
· Harrison Eldridge collected two hits on the day for the fifth consecutive game going 2-for-3 with two walks and a run scored.
· Five Pirates posted two or more hits on the afternoon (Eldridge-2, Henderson-3, Kemp-2, Harrington-2 and Ray-2).
· During ECU’s 12-game winning streak, the Pirates are hitting .345 with 16 home runs, 140 hits and slugging .542. They have outscored their opponents 120-53.
· ECU’s pitching staff has posted a 3.55 ERA during the winning streak with 98 strikeouts and 8 walks.
· In 13 of the 17 games played, the Pirates have recorded double-digits in hits and pounded out 13 against Rhode Island in the final game of the series.
· All three Pirate starters went seven innings on the weekend (Hose-7.0, Maness-8.0 and Bristow-7.0).