GREENVILLE, N.C.- Rice used a five-run fifth inning Saturday afternoon to win game two of a three-game series in Conference USA action over East Carolina 9-6 inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Trailing 5-1 in the fifth, Rice pushed across five runs in the fifth inning to take a 6-5 lead. With no outs and the bases loaded, Chad Lembeck’s infield single to short scored the first run of the frame. Jared Dodson grounded out to third plating Jimmy Comerota making the score 5-3 in favor of ECU. Tyler Henly scored on a Dustin Sasser wild pitch before Joe Savery drew his second walk of the day setting up the go ahead runs. After a Pirate pitching change that saw Brett Butts relieve Sasser, Aaron Luna drove in his second and third runs of the afternoon with a double to left center.
Mike Ojala picked up his first win of the season for Rice (25-10, 7-1) after pitching 2 1/3 innings of relief work surrendering one run on to hits with one strikeout and one walk. Starter Matt Langwell lasted just 1 1/3 innings gave up four runs (two earned) on one hit with five walks before being lifted for Scott Lonergan. Lonergan also went 1 1/3 innings giving up one run on two hits with a walk. Bobby Bramhall notched his fourth save with four innings no-hit ball, six strikeouts and two walks.
Sasser fell to 3-2 for the Pirates (21-11, 4-4) after allowing six runs (five earned) on five hits in 4 1/3 innings of work. Butts relieved Sasser in the fifth working 2 1/3 innings, allowed two runs on three hits with two strikeouts. Jason Neitz 18th appearance of the year working two innings, allowing one run on one hits with one punch-out before giving way to Bailey Daniels (1/3 IP, one strikeout).
ECU wasted little time in getting on the board as they plated two runs in the bottom of the first inning to take a 2-0 lead. After Harrison Eldridge led off the inning with a walk, Dale Mollenhauer followed with a fielder’s choice that saw Eldridge get tagged out at third. With one-out, Stephen Batts drew another free pass and then Corey Kemp loaded the bases with a walk of his own before Brandon Henderson ripped a two-out two RBI single to left field for the games first runs.
The Pirates added to their lead in the second inning pushing the score to 4-0. Ryan Wood and Eldridge each walked to start the frame before Mollenhauer’s single to right field scored Wood. Batts drew another walk to load the bases for Ryan Tousley, who grounded out to first scoring Eldridge for a 4-0 lead.
Wood drove in the Pirates fifth run of the game when he singled home Henderson from second base putting ECU up 5-0 in the third.
Luna singled home Rice’s first run of the contest in the fourth with a shot to left center that scored Jared Dodson to make it a 5-1 ECU lead.
Already up 6-5 in the sixth frame, Savery extended the Owls lead to three, 8-5, with a one-out double down the left field line that scored Dodson and Jared Gayhart.
Tousley drew the Pirates within two, 8-6, on his sac fly to left field that scored Wood. Wood led off the inning with a single to right, advanced to second on an Eldridge walk and then third on Batts free pass to first.
Rice added an insurance run in the top of the ninth Jess Buenger singled up the middle to score Luna to close the scoring at 9-6.
Wood led all Pirates with two hits, his seventh multi-hit game of the season. Mollenhauer extended his current hitting streak to eight games, the second 8-hit game hitting streak of the season.
ECU will look to avoid the sweep Sunday afternoon when the two teams play the final game of the three-game series at 11 a.m. The Pirates will look to sophomore Josh Dowdy, while Rice will counter with Savery.