Pirates advance to Super Regional

Staff WriterJune 1, 2009 

East Carolina rallied, and then rallied some more in the ninth and tenth innings.

First, they climbed back from a 6-0 deficit after two innings. Then they scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie South Carolina and force an extra inning.

It all rode off the bat of East Carolina left fielder Devin Harris.

With two outs in the 10th innings, Harris smacked an RBI single to lift East Carolina to a 10-9 win over South Carolina, clinching the NCAA Greenville Regional at Clark-LeClair Stadium Monday.

Kyle Roller, running from second, beat the throw from center field.

Facing down elimination for the third time in two days, and only three outs away from season’s end to start the ninth inning, Harris tied the game with a three-homer, driving in Brandon Henderson and Dustin Harrington who had been walked.

The Pirates scored two runs in each of the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to cut South Carolina’s lead to 7-6, but Gamecocks right fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. hit a two-run homer in the eighth.

Neither team was flush with pitching options, and East Carolina eventually cracked into the South Carolina bullpen.

The Gamecocks had played one less game (3 to ECU’s 4) in the regional and got more out of its starter Jay Brown, a fifth-year senior who’s been troubled with arm injuries for most of his collegiate career.

The Pirates (45-19) scored on Brown in the fifth inning when Ryan Wood knocked a two-run homer over the left field wall to cut the Gamecocks’ lead to 6-2.

Two batters later, after East Carolina’s Kyle Roller singled, Brown was pulled from the game for Parker Bangs.

East Carolina’s starting pitcher, Patrick Somers, didn’t last long. He allowed a run in the second, but after giving up four hits and two walks, and putting two on in the third, the Pirates went to the bullpen.

Chris Heston, who threw 78 pitches Saturday morning in a four-inning outing against Binghamton, didn’t last long in the third inning, either.

Heston allowed runs to score on a double, a sacrifice fly, a single and then South Carolina center fielder hit a two-run homer to give South Carolina a 6-0 lead.

East Carolina brought in righty Bailey Daniels to get the final out of the third and he settled in, striking out Bangs to get out of the fourth inning with two men on.

But he had runners on the corners with one out in the sixth inning and East Carolina quickly tapped its closer, Seth Simmons, who came dangerously close to blowing Sunday’s late game after starter Kevin Brandt was pulled in the ninth inning.

Simmons loaded the bases on a walk and then gave up an RBI single to Nick Ebert that put South Carolina up 7-2, but he exited the inning without further damage, catching Bangs looking on a full count.

East Carolina scored a pair of runs on Jared Avchen’s RBI double and Trent Whitehead’s sacrifice fly, leaving the score at 7-4.

Simmons faced only three batters in the bottom of the seventh, getting a pop out and two strikeouts. He was pulled with two outs in the ninth inning, going 4 2/3 innings.

When Stephen Batts led off the bottom of the seventh, South Carolina made another pitching change, bringing in lefty Alex Forotto, who hit Roller and then gave up a pair of RBI singles to Dustin Harrington and Harris.

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