Error lets Owls fly the coop
From staff and electronic reports
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Rice broke up a scoreless pitching duel with three
unearned innings in the ninth inning to capture a 3-0 Conference USA victory
over East Carolina Friday night at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Held in check by ECU starter Jeff Hoffman through eight
innings, the Owls got on the scoreboard through unconventional means in the
top of the final frame.
After back-to-back singles by Christian Stringer and
Ford Stainback, Michael Aquino's sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second
Kennan Cook followed with a bunt that was fielded by
ECU senior second baseman Bryan Bass, whose misfire to the plate in an
attempt to cut down Stringer bounded well past freshman catcher Travis
As the Pirates scrambled to retrieve
the ball near the backstop on the third base side, Stringer and Stainback
raced to the plate for what proved to be the decisive runs.
Rice added an insurance run before the inning was over
when Geoff Perrott singled and was driven home on Michael Ratterree's
Hoffman then gave way to junior designated hitter/righthanded
relief pitcher Drew Reynolds who got the final out on a fly ball.
The late turn of events sullied a sterling performance
by Hoffman, who fell to 3-4 with the loss. The sophomore righthander struck
out nine and muzzled the Owls on four hits until the ninth.
Junior righthander Austin Kubitza and sophomore rightie
Zech Lemond kept ECU's batters swinging at air for much of the game,
combining for 14 strikeouts and scattering five hits.
Lemond took over for Kubitza with one out in the eighth
and got credit for the victory. After fanning the first four batters he
faced, Lemond (3-1) surrendered a double to junior third baseman Zach
Houchins with two outs in the ninth before sealing the outcome by retiring
Reynolds on a fly to right field.
ECU (14-16, 0-4 C-USA) will try to square up the series
when it hosts the Owls (22-10, 5-2) Saturday at 2 p.m.