March 10, 2007
Greenville, NC - A sacrifice fly off the bat of designated hitter Jack Dean in the bottom of the sixth broke a scoreless tie and proved to be the winning run as unranked East Carolina (10-6) upset No. 7 Cal State Fullerton (12-7), 2-0, snapping the Titans consecutive series winning streak at 16.
For the second day in a row East Carolina pitching held the Fullerton offense to just three hits with Saturday's hero Dustin Sasser (2-0) picking up his second win of the year. The Pirate southpaw worked 6 1/3 scoreless innings surrendering just three singles to Joel Weeks, Jake Vasquez and Chris Jones while letting just one runner reach third base with two outs in the fourth.
Jeff Kaplan (3-2) pitched with Sasser for five innings holding the Pirates scoreless on four hits through five innings, but a leadoff walk to Ryan Tousley in the bottom of the sixth would be costly as he was tagged with his second loss of the year. Tousley advanced to second on a single by Cory Kemp, then a wild pitch two pitches later moved him to third to set up Dean's run-scoring fly ball. With a 3-2 count and runners at second and third, John Curtis stood as if to intentionally walk Dean, but when Kaplan delivered, Curtis dropped to his normal crouch for the pitch and Dean got enough of it to hit it to mid-center field for the game-winnner.
Dustin Birosak in relief of Kaplan in the seventh also issued a leadoff walk to Drew Schieber that would lead to another ECU run. Schieber moved to second on a grounder to third, then with two outs, scored on what seemed to be the third out of the inning. A routine hard grounder to Joel Weeks at second base off the bat of Tousley found the lip of the infield and popped right over the head of the Titan second baseman scoring the Pirate final run.
Jones' ninth inning walk for the Titans set up John Curtis who came to the plate as the tying run with 2 outs, but closer Shane Mathews retired the senior catcher on a flyball to right to close the door on the series victory for ECU. Mathews earned his 5th save of the year and capped a pitching performance that has held the Titan offense to a .111 (6-for-54) batting average over the first two games of the series.
East Carolina, the team that has snapped Fullerton's 16-series winning streak, coincidentally, was the team that started the streak a year ago this weekend (Mar. 10-12, 2006). Fullerton last lost a series Mar. 3-5 vs. Rice in Houston, Texas.
Tomorrow, Sean Urena (3-0), coming off a one-hit performance vs. Rice, will look to get the Titans back on track after the team has dropped three of its last four ball games. First pitch is scheduled for Noon EST. Remember to spring ahead.