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From the Anchor Desk
Saturday, May 24, 2008

By Brian Bailey

Another downer courtesy of Houston

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

NEW ORLEANS — For the second time in this Conference USA Baseball Tournament, Houston had just enough to slip past East Carolina.

Friday night’s game was another nail biter. In the end, the Pirates just didn’t get enough hits or make enough plays offensively to win.

This explosive Pirate offense managed just four hits off of a pair of Houston right-handers.

One of those hits came in the first. Harrison Eldridge led off the game for East Carolina with a solo home run. It would be the only run the Pirates would come up with.

“I was just trying to give my team a spark,” said Eldridge. “I really just wanted to hit the ball hard somewhere. I hit it pretty good and it took off.”

Unfortunately, the Pirate offense failed to take off. ECU managed just three more hits the rest of the way.

Still, the Pirates had a chance in the ninth. Brandon Henderson was hit by a pitch and Corey Kemp walked. Stephen Batts' sacrifice attempt failed, and pinch runner Trent Ashcraft was gunned down at third. Ryan Wood went down looking and then Kyle Roller struck out to end the game.

“There were certainly opportunities in that game where we could have scored some runs,” said Godwin. “You have to execute when you’re playing postseason ball when there is lots at stake. I don’t think we did a very good job of that.”

The Pirates got winning efforts on the mound and with the team’s defense. Sthil Sowers wriggled out of a couple of early jams. He pitched 5.1 innings, giving up six hits and two earned runs. Josh Ruhlman pitched three strong innings, giving up just one hit.

Seth Simmons walked a couple but did get a couple of key outs. One of those outs came on an attempted squeeze play.

For the second straight day, the Pirates cut down a runner on a squeeze. Simmons rushed to the ball, slid and flipped it to Corey Kemp, who caught it barehanded and made the tag.

The home plate umpire was still talking about the play after the inning. Kemp caught the ball barehanded, blocked the plate beautifully, and made the tag.

Stephen Batts came up big in left field in the 9th. Batts leaped at the wall and hauled in Jake Stewart’s drive to open the frame.

The Pirates now get set for what they believe is sure to be a road trip next week in the NCAA regionals.

You hope to be playing your best baseball at this point of the season. Right now, the Pirate bats are just not getting the job done. You don’t win many games with just four hits.

It’s hard to be disappointed with a 40-19 record and a strong RPI. The squad was scheduled to bus back to Greenville from New Orleans.

“We’ll just try to flush this one away,” Harrison Eldridge added. “We know that we have a great offensive team. We just have to get it back. I think we’re all looking forward to the postseason.”

If the Pirates hit, they can play with anyone. If not, it will be another frustrating weekend.

The club will learn its fate at 12:30 p.m. on Monday.

The road to Omaha is a bumpy one, especially running through New Orleans.


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05/27/2008 02:27:18 AM


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