GREENVILLE, N.C. - Corey Kemp tied a school record by hitting three home runs and the East Carolina offense pounded 16 hits to claim a 15-4 Conference USA win over Houston Saturday afternoon at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Kemp finished the game going 3-for-4 with three RBI and raised his batting average to .387 on the season. The last Pirate to hit three homers in a game was John Williamson on March 17, 1999 in a 14-2 win over Clemson in Harrington Field. On the afternoon, the Pirates hit six home runs, one shy of the school record and had back-to-back jacks in the first and sixth innings.
ECU (15-5, 1-1) freshman Seth Maness picked up his fourth win on the season after working 5 2/3 innings where he allowed four runs on seven hits with two walks. Josh Ruhlman made his 11th appearance out of the bull pen working 2 1/3 innings of hitless ball with two punch outs. Bailey Daniels closed out the ninth frame setting the side down in order with one strikeout.
Ty Stuckey suffered the loss for Houston (13-7, 1-1) and fell to 1-2 on the year after allowing five runs on five hits with four walks and four strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. Chris Wright gave up five runs on five hits in two-thirds of an inning. Barrett Bruce (0.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB), Jimmy Ravile (1.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB) and Matt Taylor (1.0 IP and 1 BB) finished out the final 2 2/3 innings.
ECU used three first inning home runs to jump out to an early 5-0 lead over the Cougars. Brandon Henderson hit a three-run shot to right field that scored Harrison Eldridge and Stephen Batts just before Kemp hit his first home run of the afternoon. Eldridge led off the inning with a walk then was pushed to second on Ryan Wood’s sac bunt. During Batts’ at-bat, Eldridge stole third base, the 20th of the season just before Batts drew the second walk of the frame.With two-outs, Dustin Harrington took a Stuckey fastball down the right field line capping the scoring
Houston got on the board in the top of the fourth when Jake Stewart smacked a solo home run to right-center closing the gap to 5-1.
Zak Presley ground out to second plated the Cougars second run of the game making the score 5-2 in favor of the Pirates. Bryan Tully was hit in the elbow by a Maness pitch to start the inning then moved to third on Chris Wallace’s single to right-center setting up the score.
With two outs in the sixth, Houston plated a pair of runs to cut the Pirates lead to 5-4. Felix Fanaselle singled to right field then stole second before coming home on Tully’s double down the left field line. Wallace followed with a single to center that scored Tully to end the inning.
Kemp and Kyle Roller hit back-to-back solo shots to pace a five-run sixth inning the pushed the Pirates lead to six, 10-4. Harrington followed with a bunt single then advanced to third on Drew Schieber’s single to center putting runners on the corners. Trent Whitehead drove in Harrington on a sad fly and Eldridge singled to center moving Schieber up 90 feet. Wood reached on a fielder’s choice and stole second before moving to third on a passed ball that scored Schieber. A wild pitch by Bruce capped the scoring for the Pirates.
ECU extended its lead to 11, 15-4, when they once again put up a five spot on the board. Kemp homered to lead off the frame, which was followed by a Roller single, a Harrington walk, a double by Schieber that plated Roller. After another pitching change, Whitehead drove in his second run of the game with another sac fly scoring Harrington. Wood singled to left pushing across Schieber, then Batts singled through the right side and Henderson picked up his fourth RBI when he plated Wood on a single through the left side.
The Pirates and Cougars will play the rubber match of the conference series Sunday morning at 11 a.m.