Pirates shut out 2-0 by St. John's in opener
No. 2 East Carolina will face No. 4 Navy in an elimination game on Saturday
When East Carolina has fallen short this season, it has often been because of its inability to deliver the clutch hit in close games.
That was the case on Friday, as the Pirates (39-20) stranded 12 and dropped a 2-0 decision to third-seeded St. John's (36-20) on the opening day of the NCAA Tournament in the Charlottesville Regional
ECU threatened to take the lead in the bottom of the first. St John's starter Sean Hagan retired the first two batters of the game, but proceeded to plunk Trent Whitehead and walk Zach Wright. Freshman Ben Fultz singled to load the bases. However, Red Storm centerfielder Jimmy Brennan made a terrific catch to prevent a pair of runs from scoring and give his team some momentum.
St. John's got the only run it would end up needing in the third. Paul Karmas reached on a leadoff walk and was moved to second by Joe Witkowski's sac bunt. Jimmy Brennan proceeded to single up the middle to make it 1-0.
The Red Storm tacked on its second run in the fourth. Jeremy Baltz and Matt Wessinger led off with singles and advanced into scoring position when Pirate rightfielder Philip Clark mishandled Wessinger's. After Roman Wick walked to load the bases, Kevin Grove flied out to right to score Baltz. Wright and ECU escaped further damage by getting Karmas to pop out and Witkowski to hit into a 6-4 fielder's choice to end the inning.
While Wright wasn't particularly sharp, the junior righty pitched well enough to keep his club within striking distance. He allowed two runs on seven hits and four walks in eight innings.
The Pirates had plenty of chances down the stretch, as they stranded two in each of the last three innings. Their best opportunity came in the eighth when they had runners on second and third with just one out. However, St. John's closer Matt Carasiti got John Wooten to strike out looking before getting Chase McDonald to fly out to right.
Freshmen Ben Fultz and Chase McDonald had two hits each for East Carolina, who outhit St. John's, 10-9.
Jimmy Brennan went 3-for-5 and was the only Red Storm player with a multi-hit game.
SJU starter Sean Hagan scattered nine hits in 7 1/3 innings to improve to 7-2. He struck out six and walked a pair. Matt Carasiti allowed just one hit over the final 1 2/3 innings to notch his eighth save.
The Pirates will play Navy in an elimination game at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Meanwhile, St. John's will square off with top-seeded Virginia in the winner's bracket at 6 p.m.
> Check out our great selection of ECU Pirates apparel & merchandise & be sure to follow the 2011 College World Series online through DFN Sports Sites!