March 24, 2006
HOUSTON -- The East Carolina baseball team staged a ninth inning rally to slip past Rice 4-3 in the Conference USA opener for both teams Friday night at Reckling Park.
After Rice claimed a late 3-2 lead with rally in the seventh inning, East Carolina scored a pair of runs in the top of the ninth off the Owls' bullpen to go back in front. ECU's Ryan Tousley led off with a double to left and after a strikeout, a hit batter and a walk loaded the bases. Jay Mattox hit a bouncer to first base that Rice tried to convert into a game-ending double play, but a throwing error kept the inning alive and allowed two Pirates to score.
Rice put a man on base in the bottom of the ninth, but could not come back a second time. The Owls fell to 18-8 on the season and 0-1 in C-USA play. East Carolina improved to 17-7 and 1-0 in the league.
Rice opened the scoring in the bottom of the third inning. Freshman designated hitter Kenny Ford reached on a ECU fielding error and he advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by junior Travis Reagan. Sophomore Tyler Henley followed with a base hit to right field to drive in Ford for an early 1-0 lead.
East Carolina tied it with a run in the fifth. Harrison Eldridge drew a walk to lead off the inning and he advanced to second on a wild pitch. A base hit to right by Ryan Wood scored Eldridge and knotted-up the game, 1-1. The Pirates took the lead with two outs in the seventh on a back-to-back double and single by Wood and Mattox.
The Owls came right back and regained the lead, 3-2, with two runs in the bottom of the frame. With the bases loaded sophomore Danny Lehmann punched a two out-single threw the left side to score Bobby Bramhall and Derek Myers.
Rice senior starter Eddie Degerman was sharp in matching his season highs for innings pitched (7.1) and strikeouts (11). He earned a no-decision after leaving the game with one out in the eighth. Degerman allowed just two runs on four hits and three walks. He notched double-digit strikeouts for the third time this season and sixth time in his Rice career.
The three-game series continues at Reckling Park through the weekend. Saturday's game starts at 2 pm and Sunday begins at noon.