Harrison Eldridge stole home in the bottom of the 10th inning to give East Carolina another dramatic victory in game eight of the 2007 C-USA Baseball Championship at Clark-LeClair Stadium on the campus of East Carolina University. After the Pirates loaded the bases in the 10th, Eldridge broke for home on 1-0 pitch from Tyler Conn. Stephen Batts squared to bunt, but the pitch got away from the catcher and Eldridge crossed home plate for the deciding score.
Starting pitchers Barry Bowden and Dustin Sasser were both impressive though the first five scoreless innings. Sasser gave up the game’s first run in the bottom of the sixth inning on a lead-off solo home run by Jody Blount.
Sasser was then pulled from the game and finished with four strikeouts in 6.1 innings of work.
Bailey Daniels entered the game for Sasser and kept the game close with 1.2 scoreless innings on one hit to keep the Pirates within striking distance.
The Pirates (38-20) knotted the score 1-1 in the ninth to force the extra frame. Kyle Roller singled to left with one out and was replaced at first by Broc Sutton. Stephen Batts then laced a double to right field that moved Sutton to third.
Ryan Tousley was next up and intentionally walked to load the bases. Jamie Ray followed with a sacrifice fly to center field to tie the game. After another intentional walk, Drew Schieber struck out looking to end the threat.
Southern Miss (38-20) got two runners on in the top of the tenth via walks, but was unable to scratch home a run to break the tie.
Eldridge led off the bottom half of the tenth with a single and was then moved to second by a walk to Ryan Wood. Southern Miss reliever Tyler Conn then tossed a wild pitch that moved Eldridge 90-feet from home. After Sutton was intentionally walked to load the bases yet again, Batts came to the plate and Eldridge scored on another pitch that got away.
Shane Mathews was credited with the win after pitching the scoreless 10th.
Conn took the loss for the Golden Eagles, giving up one hit and walking two. Bowden pitched eight strong innings to begin the contest, scattering four hits and striking out five.
East Carolina advances to Saturday’s semifinals, while Southern Miss will play in Friday’s 6:30 p.m. game against Tulane.