Maness, McDonald key ECU victory
McDonald hits GS in seventh, Maness gets all-time Ks mark
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Second-seeded East Carolina (40-20) got a spectacular pitching performance from senior Seth Maness, who tossed his fifth complete game of the season in a 6-1 victory against fourth-seed Navy (33-25-1) in an elimination game in the Charlottesville Regional on Saturday.
Chase McDonald went 2-for-4, highlighted by a seventh-inning grand slam that broke the game open, to lead ECU offensively. John Wooten also had two hits for his 19th multi-hit game of the season. As a team, the Pirates struggled at the dish collecting just six hits but drew a season-high 10 walks, scoring five times.
Maness, who became the school's all-time strikeout king after recording four punchouts on the afternoon, improved to 10-3 on the season after allowing one run (unearned) on five hits. He also notched his 38th career win, tying former Tulane hurler Jared Berkowitz (1997-2000) for the all-time Conference USA mark.
With the win, the Pirates live to fight another day and will play the Virginia-St. John's loser in another elimination game on Sunday while the Midshipmen see their season come to an end. Navy starter Sam Long (5-6) took the loss after giving up three runs on five hits in six-plus innings with five walks and two strikeouts. Preston Gainey worked three innings where he was touched for three runs on one hit and also allowed five walks to go along with a pair of strikeouts.
The Pirates took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the second when Jack Reinheimer posted his 23rd RBI of the season on a single to left that plated Zack Wright from second base. With McDonald standing on second after a lead off double, Wright drew the first of his three walks and Wooten reached on a bunt single to load the bases with no outs. Ben Fultz sent a lazy fly ball to left field where Brandon Beans made the catch and doubled-up McDonald at the plate trying to tag up and score.
ECU added a run in third inning to extend its lead to 2-0 when Corey Thompson scored on a two-out error by Navy's second baseman Nick Driscoll. Thompson, who had his eight-game hitting steak snapped with an 0-for-4 performance, walked with one out and moved into scoring position after swiping his third base of the season before scoring during McDonald's at-bat.
McDonald gave Maness and the Pirates some breathing room in the seventh when he smacked his first career grand slam - his fourth homer of the season - on a first pitch offering from Gainey for a 6-0 lead. Reinheimer and Mike Ussery drew consecutive walks to start the frame and after a pair of punch outs, Trent Whitehead loaded the bases setting up McDonald's shot to left field.
Navy finally got on the board in the ninth breaking up Maness' shutout when Jeff Bland scored on a RBI groundout by Andrew Hahn. With one out in the frame, Bland sent a shot to third base where Thompson was unable to come up with a back hand play reaching on the Pirates' lone defensive miscue of the game. Driscoll put runners on the corners with a single to right center before Bland crossed home for the Midshipmen's lone run of the contest.
Alex Azor led Navy offensively collecting a pair of hits off of Maness.
The loser of the Virginia-St. John's game will play East Carolina in an elimination game on Sunday at 1 p.m.