FULLERTON, Calif. March 4, 2012 – East Carolina suffered a pair of close losses during the final day of the DeMarini Invitational, falling to Indiana 5-4 and No. 11 Stanford 3-1. In the opener against the Hoosiers (9-10), the teams combined for all nine runs in the fourth and fifth innings and an RBI single by Amanda Wagner in the fifth provided the winning run. Versus Stanford, East Carolina (7-10) tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth, but the Cardinal (18-3) scored twice in the fifth on RBI singles from Jenna Rich and Jenna Becerra to net the victory.
In the opener versus the Hoosiers, freshman Courtney Smith (2-5) threw the first four-and-a-third innings, allowing five runs on nine hits and two walks. She also recorded one strikeout. Classmate Sarah Christian entered and went the remaining one-and-two-thirds, retiring all five batters she faced and tallying two strikeouts. Lora Olson (6-6) went the distance for Indiana, allowing just two earned runs and scattering six hits and a walk in addition to fanning three.
Christian (5-5) took the loss against the Cardinal, throwing all six innings and allowing 12 hits and three runs to go along with a walk. She struck out two in her second complete-game effort of the campaign. Teagan Gerhart (18-1) went the distance for Stanford, limiting East Carolina to five hits and one run. She walked one and fanned five.
During game one, Indiana mounted the first scoring threat of the game in the bottom of the second inning as Wagner led off with a single to center field and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Cassie Gogreve. Kelsey Brannon followed with a single to center that put runners on the corners with one out. Smith retired Samantha Berenter on a pop out to sophomore shortstop Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin and struck out Samantha Heyman to end the threat.
East Carolina took advantage of a Hoosier error in the top of the fourth and jumped out to a 2-0 advantage. Fieldhouse led off with her second single of the contest and senior Suzanne Riggs was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with no outs. Senior Priscilla Velasquez put down a bunt, but Hoosier catcher Gogreve’s throw to first hit Velasquez and bounced into right field, allowing Fieldhouse to score and moving Riggs to third and Velasquez to second. A groundout by Lewis brought home Riggs and put the Pirates ahead 2-0. Olson avoided further damage by catching a line drive and retiring sophomore Jasmine Robbins on a groundout.
In the bottom of the inning, the Hoosiers responded with three runs to take a one-run lead. After a groundout started the frame, Gogreve and Brannon hit consecutive singles to put runners on first and second. A double over the head of Riggs in left field by Berenter drove in Gogreve and left runners on second and third. Heyman followed with a single to right center that plated Brannon. Sophomore right fielder Jill Jelnick picked up the ball and fired to first baseman Velasquez and Heyman was caught between first and second base. Velasquez threw to Kaluhiokalani-Glackin, who applied the tag on Heyman for the second out, but Berenter came home during the rundown. Smith caught a line drive off the bat of Heather Nelson to close the inning.
The Pirates regained the lead in the top of the fifth with a pair of runs. Kaluhiokalani-Glackin led off with a walk. Jelnick put down a bunt and third baseman Wagner fielded and opted to throw to second to force Kaluhiokalani-Glackin, who slid into the bag and knocked away the ball, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Sophomore Rebecca Lee followed with a sacrifice bunt that moved the runners up a base. Fieldhouse delivered her third hit of the game, bouncing one over Wagner’s head and into left field to deliver Kaluhiokalani-Glackin to tie the contest at 3-3 and leave runners on the corners. Riggs struck out swinging, but on the third strike, Fieldhouse took off for second. Gogreve threw to the bag, but the toss was low and bounced away from the second baseman and shortstop, allowing Jelnick to come home and give the Pirates a one-run advantage. A pop out ended the frame.
ECU could not shut the door, however, giving up two more runs in the bottom of the inning. On the first pitch of the frame, Abraham hit a home run to center field to knot the game at 4-4. Breanna Saucedo drew a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a Wagner single to center. A wild pitch advanced Wagner to second and Gogreve drew the inning’s second free pass to put runners on first and second with one out. Christian entered for Smith and struck out Brannon and retired Berenter on a groundout to leave the pair stranded.
The Pirates had a chance to retie the contest in the top of the sixth, but could not convert. With one out, sophomores Kristi Oshiro and Robbins hit back-to-back singles to left field. Olson bounced back, striking out sophomore pinch hitter Abby Wynne and retiring Jelnick on a groundout to close the threat.
Olson sent down ECU in order in the seventh with a lineout, foul out and strikeout.
Against Stanford, the Cardinal scored a run with two outs in the bottom of the second inning to go ahead 1-0. After a groundout started the frame, Becerra singled to the left side. Christian retired Michelle Prong on a lineout to Oshiro at second base, but Caitlyn Pura and Hanna Winter tallied consecutive singles to drive in Becerra. Leah White flew out to Jelnick in left center to end the inning.
The Pirates had a threat in the top of the third, but could not push a run across. Junior Cicely Lopez led off the frame with a double to right center, but a foul out on a bunt attempt, a lineout back to Gerhart and a fly out to deep right center left Lopez on the bag.
After the defensive hold, the Cardinal started the bottom of the inning in nearly the same way as ECU did in the top half, getting a double to left field by 2011 USA Softball National Player of the Year Ashley Hansen. Just like Gerhart, Christian rebounded to retire the next three batters on a foul out, fly out and groundout.
ECU responded in the top of the fourth with a run to tie the game. Oshiro led off and slapped a single through the right side. Fieldhouse followed with a single past Gerhart and into center. Velasquez walked, loading the bases with no outs. Lewis reached on a fielder’s choice as Hansen at shortstop dove and made the stop, flipping to second for the force on Velasquez. Oshiro came home on the play to tie the game at 1-1. Gerhart avoided further damage with an infield pop out and strikeout to close the threat.
Stanford capitalized on an East Carolina error in the bottom of the fifth to take a 3-1 lead. White led off with a bunt and Lopez’s throw got away from Oshiro covering first, allowing White to move to second. A fly ball to center by Hansen moved White to third and she came home on a single down the left-field line by Rich. Cassandra Roulund followed with a single off the glove of Christian to put runners on first and second with one out. A fielder’s choice left runners on the corners with two outs and Becerra singled just inside the right-field line to drive in Rich for the two-run advantage. A groundout to Kaluhiokalani-Glackin at shortstop ended the frame.
After Gerhart retired the Pirates in order in the sixth, the Cardinal loaded the bases in the bottom of the frame, but was held off. With one out, Winter and White beat out infield singles and each moved up a base on a wild pitch to leave runners on second and third. Hansen grounded out to Lopez for the second out and Rich was intentionally walked to fill the bases. Christian struck out Roulund swinging to leave all three stranded.
ECU made things interesting the seventh, getting a runner to third base, but failed to score. Robbins led off with a single to right field, just off the glove of a diving Winter. Robbins took off for second and was thrown out, but was awarded the base due to interference by first baseman Erin Ashby. Lopez flew out to left field before pinch hitter Lee moved Robbins to third with a groundout. A fly out to left by pinch hitter Riggs ended the contest.
East Carolina remains in California for one more game, a 9:00 p.m. ET contest at Cal State Fullerton (9-12) on Tuesday.
– Sophomore Alex Fieldhouse finished the tournament with a .618 batting average (eight-for-13), recording two or more hits in each contest except the finale versus Stanford, when she had one.
– Sophomore Jordan Lewis drove in a run in each Sunday tilt and finished the weekend with an ECU-best four RBI.
– Senior Priscilla Velasquez also turned in a strong four-game performance, batting .375.
– Freshman Sarah Christian’s six innings versus Stanford gives the Pirates five complete-game performances this season after tallying 55 in 63 games in 2011.
– East Carolina’s six-game losing streak is the program’s longest since a 10-game skid March 29-April 13, 2003.
– The Pirates committed only three errors during the four games after entering the weekend averaging 1.5 miscues per tilt.
– ECU is 7-10 after 17 games this campaign. In 2011, the Pirates had a 13-4 mark. However, East Carolina has played five games against ranked opponents this year and had faced just one at this point last season.