GREENVILLE, N.C. – Connor Barron’s infield single in the 11th scored Bradley Roney lifting Southern Miss (25-20, 14-6) to a 10-9 victory over East Carolina (25-22, 9-8) in 11 innings Saturday afternoon at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.
With the game knotted at eight-all in the 11th, Southern Miss plated a pair of runs and held off a late ECU rally to even the Conference USA series at one-game each. Mason Robbins singled to start the stanza and took third on Roney’s double down the left field line. After Blake Brown grounded out to short, Dillon Day was walked intentionally to load the bases and the Pirates were looking to turn a double play to get out of the jam. But Chase Flower lifted a fly ball to center scoring Robbins and Barron followed with a single behind the bag at second plating Roney for a 10-8 lead.
ECU eyed its second comeback of the game in the bottom half of the 11th scoring a run to pull within one, 10-9. Zach Houchins, who was one of six Pirates with multiple hits on the day, led off with a single up the middle and moved to third on Chase McDonald’s double down the left field line. McDonald was immediately lifted for pinch runner Chris Gosik, but he never left second base. Dylan Brown popped out to second for the first out before Garrett Brooks’ sac fly to right field scored Houchins. Nick Thompson ended the game coming in to pinch hit sending a fly ball to right center for the games final out.
Roney (1-0) picked up the win in relief working the final 3.1 innings allowing two runs (both earned) on four hits with one walk. Starter Andrew Pierce was touched for three runs (all earned) on nine hits with four walk and five strikeouts in 6.1 frames. Daniel Wineski worked a scoreless inning and Cameron Giannini surrendered four runs (all earned) on three hits with a walk in one-third of an inning.
Drew Reynolds (3-2) took the loss allowing four runs (two earned) on six hits in 2.2 innings. ECU starter David Lucroy lasted just four innings giving up four runs (all unearned) on three hits with three walks and six strikeouts. Andy Smithmyer gave up two runs (one earned) in four innings, while Jake Harris recorded one out in his 21st appearance.
Trailing 5-3 in the eighth inning, ECU scored five runs highlighted by Houchins three-run homer to take its first lead of the day at 8-5. With one out and Giannini on the hill for Southern Miss, Philip Clark walked to start the rally. Luke Lowery followed with a single and Bryan Bass flied out to center moving Clark to third and putting runners on the corners with two outs. Jack Reinheimer singled to center plating Clark and pulling the Pirates within one, 5-4.
The inning continued when Reynolds singled through the right side scoring Lowery from second and tying the game at five-all. Southern Miss went to the bullpen again and brought their top reliever in Roney in hopes of stopping the Pirates’ offensive. He delivered a 2-2 offering over the middle of the plate and Houchins took it for a ride over the left field wall for his fifth homer of the season for a three-run ECU lead.
ECU was in the drivers seat heading to the ninth with a three-run lead, but Southern Miss scratched across three runs tying the game at eight. Isaac Rodriguez drew an opening frame walk from Smithmyer, who was immediately lifted for the C-USA save leader Reynolds. Robbins followed with a grounder to short that got away from Reinheimer as he eyed a double play opportunity.
With runners on first and second, Roney singled through the left side loading the bases for Brown, who flied out to shallow center. Day, the reigning C-USA Hitter-of-the-Week, laced an RBI single to right scoring Rodriguez and cutting the deficit to two, 8-6. Fowler followed with a single down the right field line that plated both Robbins and Roney tying the game. With runners on second and third and one out, Andrew Furr lined into a double play sending a fly ball to Brooks in center, who fired home and nailed Day at the plate to get out of the inning.
Southern Miss took an early 4-0 lead in the first thanks to a pair of Pirate errors and RBI singles off the bat of Robbins and Day.
ECU finally got on the board in the fifth when Brown singled home Houchins with a shot through the right side and Lowery’s sac fly to left that pushed across McDonald cutting the lead to 4-2.
The Pirates scored a run in the sixth pulling within one, 4-3 on McDonald’s RBI single to right center. But the Golden Eagles got the run back in the top of the seventh when Barron scored on a wild pitch.
For the second-straight game ECU out-hit Southern Miss 17-13. The Pirates had six players with multiple hits including three each from Bass, Houchins and McDonald. Clark, Reinheimer and Reynolds each added a pair, while Brown and Lowery had one base knock. Reynolds extended his current hit streak to 11 games where he is 22-for-46 with eight multi-hit games.
Robbins and Day posted a three-hit day for the Golden Eagles, while Fowler and Roney had two hits.
The loss for the Pirates was their sixth one-run set back in league play this season and snapped their four-game winning streak.
ECU and Southern Miss will play the rubber match for the series Sunday, May 5 at 11 a.m. (ET). The Pirates are looking for their fourth-straight series win.