Junior Jordan Lewis drove in the game's only run with a single in the first inning in a 1-0 victory for East Carolina (5-3) over St. John's (2-5) on Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Pirate Clash at ECU Softball Stadium.
Sophomore Sarah Christian (4-1) picked up the victory in the relief with four scoreless innings and only one hit allowed. Fellow sophomore Courtney Smith earned the start in the circle for ECU and went three scoreless innings before exiting with a career-high five strikeouts.
St. John's Tori Free (0-3) went the distance for the Red Storm and surrendered just one run on one hit with four walks and nine strikeouts.
For the second straight game the Pirates plated a run in the opening inning. Junior Alex Fieldhouse started the two-out rally with a walk. She then stole second and scored on Lewis' RBI single through the right side. The hit would be the only one of the game for the Pirates and drove in the only run the two ECU pitchers would need in recording the team's second shutout of the season.
Smith had a strong second inning for ECU with strikeouts of Chrissy Montez and Dominique Marcelino.
The Pirates wasted a one-out, second-and-third situation in the third inning. Junior Jill Jelnick was hit by a pitch and took second on junior Kristi Oshiro's sacrifice bunt. A walk to Fieldhouse put two runners on base. Both runners then moved up a base for the heart of the lineup with stolen bases. The next two were retired in order though on a strikeout and a ground out to keep the score at 1-0 ECU.
Junior Jasmine Robbins ended the bottom of the third inning with a nice running and diving catch in short centerfield to take away a would-be hit from Yvonne Rericha and squash a potential STJ rally before it even began.
After a leadoff single in the bottom of the fourth inning, Christian entered the game in relief for ECU. Her catcher, senior Kai Clark, helped out immediately by throwing out pinch runner Courtney Budynas on a steal attempt for the first out. Christian then recorded a ground out to third, a walk and a ground out to the shortstop to keep the margin at a single run.
St. John's again put the leadoff runner on base in the fifth inning when Dominique Marcelino drew a walk. A well-played fielder's choice by the ECU defense allowed Ellen Czuba and Marcelino to change places at first for the first out. A strikeout and another induced fielder's choice ground out allowed the Pirates to escape unscathed in the inning.
East Carolina attempted to tack on an insurance run in the sixth inning with Fieldhouse drawing her third walk of the game. A sacrifice bunt moved Fieldhouse to second, but that was as far as she could get as strikeouts were recorded on the next two ECU hitters to keep the margin the same.
Christian continued to pitch strong in the last two innings and recorded outs on six (two on strikeouts, two on pop outs and two on ground outs) of the remaining seven hitters she faced, to end the contest and give the Pirates a thrilling 1-0 victory.
With the final day of the Pirate Clash being canceled due to the expected weather in the area, ECU will next be in action on Friday, Feb. 22, for the Pirate Invitational. The Pirates play a pair of contests on the first day starting at 2:30 p.m. against Lehigh.
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