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Pirates Use Unearned Runs to Down Flames, 7-4
With the setback, Liberty drops to 1-1, while East Carolina evens it record at 1-1.
For the second-straight day, the Flames jumped on the scoreboard first. Liberty loaded the bases with no one out to open the contest. Pirate starter Jeff Ostrander then looked like he might get out of the first inning unscathed after striking out the next two batters, but P.K. Keller (Jr., RF, Clearwater, Fla.) singled to right to score Patrick Gaillard (Sr., SS, Taylors, S.C.), who reached on a single to open the game, with the contest's first run.
East Carolina came back with a run of its own in the bottom of the opening inning. Leadoff hitter Harrison Eldridge singled sharply to right and evened the game at 1-1 on a double by shortstop Dale Mollenhauer.
The Flames struck for two more runs in the top of the third frame to take a 3-1 lead. With two outs and runners at first and second, first baseman Cody Brown (R-So., 1B, Boca Raton, Fla.) lined a single to left to score Garrett Young (Jr., CF, Fountain Valley, Calif.), who had earlier doubled. Keller followed with a double to right, plating Aaron Phillips (Jr., 3B, Claremore, Okla.) with the inning's second run.
In the bottom of the inning, the Pirates pushed across a single run to make it, 3-2. With one out, the next two East Carolina batters reached on a walk and a hit by pitch. The two base runners executed a double steal to put both runners in scoring position. Liberty starter Dustin Umberger (So., RHP, Hummelstown, Pa.) then struck out the next Pirate, only to see an infield single by Stephen Batts fall in, allowing Mollenhauer, the lead runner, to tally the run.
East Carolina took its first lead of the series with four unearned runs in the home half of fourth. Right fielder Jamie Ray singled to lead off the frame, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, to third on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball.
The Pirates plated their second run as first baseman Brandon Henderson chased home catcher David Forbes on a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded and one out. Ryan Tousley followed with a RBI single to right and the Pirates made it, 6-3, on an errant throw by the shortstop on a pickoff attempt of a runner at third.
The Flames cut into East Carolina's advantage with a run in seventh. With one out, second baseman Tommy Bussey (So., Boynton Beach, Fla.) reached on a throwing error by the third baseman and moved to third on a single down the right field line by designated hitter Aaron Grijalva (R-Jr.,Redlands, Calif.), He then scored on a single to right by Young.
In the top of the eighth, Liberty threaten by loading the bases with two outs, but Pirate closer Shane Matthews was able to strike out the next Flame batter to preserve East Carolina's 6-4 advantage. In the bottom of the inning, the Pirates added an unearned run on a two-base error by the Liberty third baseman and a RBI double by Eldridge.
Umberger (0-1) allowed six runs, only three earned, on five hits in four innings of work for the Flames. Ryan Page (Jr., LHP, Cranberry Twp., Pa.) followed in relief, allowing an unearned run on two hits the rest of the way. Jeff Ostrander (1-0) picked up the win for East Carolina. The Pirate right-hander yielded three runs, two earned, striking out four and walking none in six innings. Matthews earned a save with 1 1/3 innings of relief.
Five Liberty players had two hits in the contest as the Flames out-hit the East Carolina, 12-7. Eldridge was the only Pirate with two hits in the game.
Liberty and East Carolina will conclude their season-opening series tomorrow afternoon. The rubber game of the three-game series is scheduled for 1 p.m. at LeClair-Clark Stadium.