East Carolina Powers Its Way Past UAB, 10-3 in Day 4 of the C-USA Baseball Championship
May 26, 2012
East Carolina's three-, four- and five-hole hitters had three hits and two RBI apiece, and right-hander Jeff Hoffman tossed 7.0 solid innings in a starting role, as the sixth-seeded Pirated defeated title-game bound UAB, 10-3, in day four of the 2012 Conference USA Baseball Championship on Saturday at Trustmark Park.
The game was tied at 2-all after seven innings of play, but ECU plated one in the eighth and exploded for six more in the top of the ninth to conclude pod play with a 1-2 record. In victory, the Pirates improve to 35-22-1 and will await Monday's NCAA Selection Committee announcement to learn if they will be one of the 64 teams to advance to postseason play. The Blazers, meanwhile, fall to 31-28 and will square off against No. 5 seed Memphis in Sunday's C-USA Championship title game and the winner will earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. That game will be televised live nationally on CBS Sports Network with first pitch slated for 1 p.m.
Third baseman Corey Thompson, right fielder John Wooten and catcher Zach Wright each accounted for three of the Pirates' 15 hits. Thompson scored a game-high three runs and Wooted had a double in his 3-for-5 performance. Hoffman (3-1) earned the victory after giving up three runs on six hits and a trio of walks while striking out two during his time toeing the rubber. Andy Smithmyer scattered two hits and struck out four over the final two frames to earn his first save of the season.
East Carolina wasted little time getting on the board as left fielder Tim Younger opened to open the ballgame, advanced to second on a groundout, and scored on a Thompson RBI-single to center. Wooten followed with a single to right to move Thompson to third, and Wright added to the tally with a run-scoring infield single.
UAB got a run back in the home half of the inning when catcher Harry Clark drew a bases-loaded walk to plate designated hitter Ryan Prinzing, but the Pirates pushed the lead back to a pair in the top of the second when first baseman Chase McDonald clubbed a towering solo home run over the wall in left centerfield.
Three scoreless innings later, the Blazers rallied to tie the game with a pair of runs here in the sixth. After a walk by Prinzing and a single by reserve right fielder Ryan Ussery, UAB third baseman Patrick Palmeiro drove in pinch-runner Ivan De Jesus with a single to left to cut the deficit to one. UAB later loaded the bases and tied things up when back-up catcher Tyler Mims singled to center.
Following a scoreless frame, East Carolina went ahead for good in the eighth. Thompson led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a balk by UAB reliever Sam Kelley. From there, UAB head coach Brian Shoop called in Alex Luna, who gave up the sacrifice bunt to move the Pirate pair up 90 feet before uncorking a wild pitch which allowed Thompson to touch the paystation.
The Pirates quieted any talk of a UAB comeback in the top of the ninth when East Carolina sent 11 players to the plate and scored six runs on the strength of six hits while taking advantage of two walks and a Blazers' error. Ussery got things going with a one-out single through the right side of the infield, and with two away, Reynolds walked and Thompson posted another RBI-single that took a bad hop over UAB reserve third baseman Tyler Hamby's right shoulder.
Wooten followed with a two-run double to left central before Wright laced a run-scoring single and later scored on a throwing error. Reserve right fielder Philip Clark capped the six-run frame with an RBI-single to left to account for the final score.
Four UAB players - Frost, Ussery, Palmeiro and Mims - accounted for all eight of the Blazers' hits with two each. Starting hurler Ruben Tresgallo was tagged for three runs on five hits and four walks over 3.1 innings, and Sam Kelley was saddled with the loss after giving up one run on three hits and a pair of walks in 3.2 frames out of the bullpen.