05/25/06 — ECU surfs past Green Wave at CUSA tournament

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ECU surfs past Green Wave at CUSA tournament

Published in Sports on May 25, 2006 2:12 PM

HOUSTON, Texas -- Senior left-hander Brody Taylor scattered seven hits and allowed just one earned run in seven-plus innings of work while senior catcher Jake Smith's two-run homer proved to be the difference as sixth-seeded East Carolina posted a 4-2 victory over No. 3 Tulane during opening round action of the 2006 Conference USA Baseball Championships at Reckling Park Wednesday morning.

The win marked the fourth first-round victory for the Pirates (33-24) in five C-USA Tournament appearances, which includes a stretch of three straight dating back to a 13-2 triumph over Louisville to start the 2004 tourney. ECU advances to the winners' bracket and will face the winner of the No. 2 Houston vs. No. 7 Marshall matchup today at 5:00 p.m. (EDT).

Taylor (8-2), who pitched into the eighth inning for the seventh time in 2006, allowed just one earned run on seven hits while striking out one and walking three during his 113-pitch effort. Sophomore Shane Matthews closed out the victory in impressive fashion by earning his first career save after working an inning and two-thirds of hitless relief, fanning two of the six batters he faced.

With the contest tied at 1-1, Jake Dean collected his second hit of the contest, lacing a single to center to start the fifth inning, before moving to second on Ryan Wood's sacrifice bunt. Harrison Eldridge gave ECU the lead for good by lining a 2-1 pitch from Tulane (39-18) starter Sean Morgan into right field to score Dean who slid under a tag by Tulane catcher Ty Wallace.

Smith, who came into tourney play swinging a hot bat with a .560 average over his last seven games, extended the Pirates' cushion to 4-1 by drilling Morgan's first offering over the leftfield wall for his 13th homer and 65th RBI of the year - which ranks seventh all-time in the single-season ECU record books.

Tulane opened the scoring in the bottom of the first, using a pair of a groundball hits and a Pirate error to jump out to a 1-0 lead. After Matt Riser's popup into short leftfield glanced off shortstop Dale Mollenhauer's glove, Cat Everett followed with a single through the right side. Warren McFadden, who earned C-USA Freshman-of-the-Year honors prior to the tourney, drove home Riser with a single up the middle that Taylor partially stopped with his foot but couldn't field.

The Pirates quickly evened the contest in the top of the second, using a run-scoring single by Dean to score Ryan Tousley, who drew a one-out walk against Morgan.

The Green Wave threatened in the fourth when Brad Emaus extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a one-out single to right before Tim Guidry walked to put runners of first and second. Taylor ended the rally however by getting Seth Henry to bounce into a double play.

Tulane responded in its half of the fifth to trim the margin to 4-2 when Wallace ripped his fourth round-tripper of the season to left field.