Pirates finish on high note
From staff and electronic reports
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HOUSTON — East Carolina was simply playing for pride in
its final game in the Conference USA Tournament on Saturday night against
Southern Miss at Rice's Reckling Park, but that proved effective motivation
as the Pirates rallied for an 8-7 win.
ECU (31-26), the third seed for the league tournament,
had fallen out of contention for the title with losses
to Houston and
Tulane. The Pirates are not expected to receive a bid to the NCAA
The Golden Eagles emerged from ECU's pool in the C-USA
event and will play the host Owls at 2 p.m. today for the conference
Southern Miss was in position to sweep its pool with a
six-run sixth inning that produced a 6-2 lead but the Pirates answered with
three runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth to make a winner out
of senior Andy Smithmyer (3-1). Drew Reynolds notched his 14th save.
“I thought (Andy) Smithmyer did an outstanding job,"
said ECU coach Billy Godwin. "He was really good tonight. (Drew) Reynolds
has been good for us all year.. We played all our seniors today,
positionally, and got Smithmyer and (Jake) Harris in the game — pitching for
pride. I’m really proud of the job he did coming in there. He hasn’t had the
best year but he sure came in and nailed it down at the end.”
Smithmyer recorded four strikeouts in just one and
two-thirds innings. Jake Winston (2-2) absorbed the loss for USM.
Bryan Bass drove in the tying run in the eighth with a
hit and Reynolds brought in the go-ahead run with a single through the left
side of the Golden Eagles infield. Zach Houchins had a sacrifice fly in the
eighth for what proved to be the winning run as Southern Miss scored once in
ECU took a 2-0 lead in the fourth. Reynolds and
Houchins were hit by pitches from Southern Miss starter Paxton King before
Chase McDonald's single loaded the bases. A walk to Chris Gosik forced home
the first run of the game. Jack Reinheimer had an RBI single to give the
Pirates a 2-0 advantage.
Michael Sterling had a two-run double and Nick Dawson
had a bases-clearing two-bagger for three of USM's runs in the six-run
Reinheimer, Jay Cannon and Philip Clark had hits for
the Pirates in the seventh. Sam King contributed a sacrifice fly.
Bass, Reinheimer, Cannon and Clark had two hits each
for ECU in a 12-hit attack.
Doubles by Austin Roussel and Blake Brown got the
Golden Eagles within a run in the ninth before Reynolds closed the game with
"I was really proud of their effort," Godwin said. "It
would have been easy to fold when we were down and they battled back, which
is what they’ve done the last 20 games or so."
The Pirates won 14 of their final 20 games.