Houchins' Walk-Off Single In 13th Evens Series With Rice

GREENVILLE, N.C. – Zach Houchins RBI single in the bottom of the 13th scored Jack Reinheimer from second base and gave East Carolina (15-16, 1-4) a walk-off 3-2 win over No. 18 Rice (22-11, 5-3) in Conference USA action Saturday afternoon at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.

With the game knotted at two, Reinheimer collected his third hit of the game with one out sending a shot back up the middle. After moving into scoring position with his fifth stolen base of the year, Jay Cannon flied out to center for the second out of the frame. Houchins stepped to the plate and sent a 2-2-fastball offering from John Simms scoring Reinheimer for the Pirates first win in league play. For Houchins it was his third game-winning hit in the last six games.

Drew Reynolds (1-1) picked up the win in relief tossing a career-high five scoreless innings where he allowed one hit with four strikeouts. Starter David Lucroy held Rice’s offense in check over seven frames surrendering a pair of runs (one earned) on three hits with five walks and five punch-outs. Andy Smithmyer bridged the gap between Lucroy and Reynolds working one inning with a strikeout.

Simms (4-3) took the loss scattering four hits over 5.1 innings of relief giving up the game winning run in the 13th to go along with three strikeouts and one walk. Jordan Stephens was touched for a pair of runs (both earned) on eight hits with two strikeouts in 6.2 innings. Blake Fox made his 11th appearance out of the bullpen recording the final two outs in the seventh.

Rice jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning thanks to Skyler Ewing’s RBI single. Kennan Cook reached on an error to start the stanza then took second on Geoff Perrott’s sac bunt. Michael Ratterree drew a one-out walk and took second when Connor Teykl reached on a fielder’s choice, where Houchins fielded the grounder and stepped on third to retire Cook. Ewing followed with a first pitch single to left field plating Ratterree for the games first run.

Ratterree’s single in the sixth extended Rice’s lead to 2-0. Ford Stainback led off with a walk, moved to second on Michael Aquino’s sac bunt and scored two batters later on the first of two Ratterree base hits.

Reinheimer pulled the Pirates within one, 2-1, in the sixth when he blasted his second homer of the season (third career) to left field to start the frame.

One inning later ECU tied the game at two-all on Travis Watkins’ RBI single. Reynolds laced a one-out double to right field and came around to score two batters later when Watkins sent a soft liner to left field.

Rice had runners on first and second with one out in the 11th, but Reynolds induced a pair of fly outs to Cannon in left field. In the 12th, the Owls threatened again when Leon Byrd singled and Christian Stringer walked to start the frame. Stainback reached on a fielder’s choice on a grounder back to Reynolds, who fired over to Houchins at third getting the lead runner. Aquino was retired on an infield fly to Reinheimer at short and Cook grounded out to second to end the inning.

ECU had a chance to end the game in the bottom half of the 12th. With one out, Chase McDonald walked and was promptly lifted for pinch runner Garrett Brooks. Reynolds followed with a single to left center putting the winning run just 90 feet away. But Simms got Clark and Watkins to ground out to short ending its threat.

The Pirates out-hit the Owls 12-5 on the day with Reinheimer (three), Reynolds (two) and Watkins (two) each recording multiple hits. Reynolds extended his current hit streak to six games with his double in the seventh.

ECU will look to take the series with the two teams meet for game three on Sunday, Apr. 7 with a 10 a.m. (ET) first pitch scheduled.