For the second day in a row the Pirates let a lead late in the game slip away. Although the game was being played in Kinston, ECU was the visiting team in today's game.
In the bottom of the second, Case places a double into RF. He is awarded third on a balk by Sam Narron. Christensen hits an RBI single into RF to give the Vols the early lead. Narron then does his first of three Houdini impersonations. With the bases loaded and two outs, Narron strikes out Stevie Daniel looking to get out of the inning. Tennessee is up 1-0.
In the bottom of the 4th, the Vol's Christensen and Wilson hit back-to-back singles. Parker hits a shot back to the mound and Narron guns down Christensen at third for the first out. Burke then singles up the middle to load the bases and Narron does his second Houdini impersonation. He again strikes out Daniel looking to record the second out of the inning. Then Narron forces Bennett to ground out to third to end the inning.
In the top of the 5th, Warren Gaspar singles to LF. Bryant Ward singles to CF and Gaspar takes 3rd on the play. In a pick-off move, Tennessee's Javi Herrera throws a ball four fet over the 3rd baseman's head into left field allowing Gaspar to score and Ward to go to 2nd. But the next three Pirate baters go down to end the inning. Game tied at one all.
In the top of the 6th with one out, Cliff Godwin stretches a double to CF into a triple with a head first dive into the bag. Clayton McCullough then brings in Godwin with his own triple. This time into RF. Ryan Jones singles by hitting the ball off of the Tennessee pitcher, but McCullough is stranded at third. Warren Gaspar then hits into a double play to end the inning, but the Pirates take a 2-1 lead.
In the top o the 7th with one out, Chad Tracey goes yard with a solo shot over the CF fence. The Pirates failed to capitalize on the moment and take a 3-1 lead.
In the bottom half of the 7th, Narron hits Burke to put him on first. Daniel singles to move Burke over to third. Bennett then pops up to the pitcher. Narron hits Hopkins and the bases are loaded. Narron does his third Houdini impersonation. Herrera pops out to Ward at second under the infield fly rule. Narron is then able to strike out Case looking to get out of the inning. That was the third time in the game that the Volunteers left the bases loaded.
East Carolina had a 3-1 lead going into the bottom half of the 8th inning. After Narron walks Christensen. ECU's Head Coach Keith LeClair decides to bring in right-hander Glenn Tucker. Dan Wilson takes Tucker's first pitch into RF, advancing Christensen to second. Justin Parker then hits the ball back to the mound, but Tucker throws it into left-field on a put out attempt at third base. The throwing rror allows Christensen to score. With no outs and runners at first and second, Tucker walks Burke to load the bases. This time Houdini was no longer on the mound. Stevie Daniel made the Pirates pay with a Grand Slam home run over the right center field fence. The Volunteers scored 5 runs on 3 hits in the 8th to put the Pirates away.
With 2 outs and two on in the top of the 9th, Cliff Godwin pops up to the second baseman to end the Pirate's season.
The Volunteers will face the Hurricanes of Miami in Omaha for the College World Series.
On a great C-USA conference note. Fellow C-USA member Tulane will be playing in Omaha after knocking out LSU. I am sure that will bring a half-smile to the Pirate faithful.
This season saw a number of firsts for the Pirates. They get the chance to host their first Regional and Super Regional. They also got to show the NCAA that there is interest in college baseball in the eastern part of the state with attendances around the 4,000 mark for every game. The Pirates also made it into the Super Regional for the first time and also played in the month of June for the first time.
These Pirates should not hang their heads. I am sure that they will be back in the Regionals in the very near future. The Pirates will be hosting the Conference USA Tournament next year in Kinston in their first year in the conference. Hopefully, they will be hosting another Regional and Super Regional at Grainger Stadium as well.
It is going to be a slow summer for Crossbones.com. But keep checking back with us for our upcoming coverage of the 2001 football season and hopefully a quest for a Heisman Trophy for Mr. David Garrard.
Hey, a guy can dream can't he.
See ya on the gridiron.