GREENVILLE, N.C. - Sophomore Stephen Batts extended his hit streak to 25 games after going 2-for-5 with three RBI as he paced an East Carolina offensive attack that pounded out 11 hits to beat Tulane 9-4 Saturday afternoon and advance to its second Conference USA Championship Game, which will be played Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. (EDT) against Rice.
ECU (39-20) starter Josh Dowdy (5-1) worked into the seventh inning for the sixth time this year, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits with a walk and strikeout. Jason Neitz made a brief appearance, his 32nd of the year, going just two-thirds of an inning giving up one hits. Bailey Daniels (1.1 IP and 1 H) and Shane Mathews (1 IP and 1 K) also saw action coming out of the bullpen.
Aaron Loup suffered his first loss of the season and dropped to 2-1 after lasting 6 1/3 innings, where he allowed four runs (one earned) on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts. C-USA’s all-time saves leader Daniel Latham relieved Loup in the seventh and lasted one inning where he gave up three runs (all earned) on four hits with one strikeout. Drew Zizinia (1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB) and Matt Goebel (1/3 IP) also took the hill.
The Pirates wasted little time in getting on the board as they plated three runs in the top of the first taking advantage of three Tulane (34-26) errors and building a 3-0 lead. Harrison Eldridge led off the game with a walk then moved to third on an Anthony Scelfo fielding error during Ryan Wood’s at bat. With no outs and runners on second and third, Batts ripped a 2-RBI single to right field for his 18th career multi-RBI game. Kyle Roller followed by reaching on the third error of the inning, this time by the second baseman Seth Henry scoring Batts for the third run of the frame.
Tulane chipped away at the Pirate lead pushing runs across in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Tim Guidry scored the first run when he took a Dowdy slider opposite field for his fifth home run of the season.
In the fourth frame, Brad Emaus smacked his fifth home run of the season to left field closing the gap to 3-2.
Guidry came through once again for the Wave in the fifth with an RBI single up the middle that scored Grayden Griener to tie the game at three. Griener reached first on a throwing error by Wood then advanced to second on Cat Everett’s sac bunt. Scelfo followed with a walk setting up the tying run.
ECU took a 5-3 lead in the top of the seventh thanks to Drew Schieber’s sixth home run of the season on a Loup first pitch offering to right field. For Schieber it was his sixth home run and 19th RBI of the season and the first of two hits on the day. Batts added to the lead with his third RBI of the game on a double to left-center that scored Eldridge.
Back-to-back singles and a pair of sacrifices pulled the Wave within one of the Pirates in the seventh, 5-4. Aja Barto singled to center, Griener singled to right field and both runners moved up on Everett’s sac bunt to third and Scelfo’s fly out to center, that plated Barto.
The Pirates scored three runs in the eighth and one in the ninth to seal the victory and advance the championship game on Sunday afternoon. Jake Dean (double), Corey Kemp (single) and Eldridge (single) each drove in runs in the eighth on hit to the right side of the field. Schieber picked up his second RBI of the game with a single through the left side that scored Ryan Tousley.
Rice advanced to the title game by pounding Memphis 20-9.