June 1, 2009

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Harris Homer, Hit Put Pirates in Super Regionals

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

GREENVILLE, N.C. – Sophomore outfielder Devin Harris had a game-tying three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth and the game-winning single with two outs in the bottom of the 10th as top-seeded East Carolina edged second-seeded South Carolina 10-9 Monday night to win the Greenville Regional in front of 5,047 fans at Clark-LeClair Stadium, the fourth-largest crowd in stadium history. (photo by Jay Clark)


The Pirates (46-18) will play at North Carolina this weekend in the Super Regional on Saturday and Sunday at noon and Monday at 1 or 7 p.m., if necessary. The Tar Heels are the No. 4 national seed.


“I’m very proud of our players and what they accomplished,” ECU head coach Billy Godwin said. “To play five games in three days and come back and win three in a row was absolutely outstanding.”


ECU trailed 9-6 heading to the ninth. Brandon Henderson drew a leadoff walk against reliever Alex Farotto. Curtis Johnson came in to pitch and surrendered a walk to Dustin Harrington before Harris went deep to left to tie the game at 9 and send the Pirates to extra innings for the first time this season.


“I’ve hit home runs,” Harris said, “but I’d say by far that’s the biggest I’ve hit. He got up 0-1, so I anticipated he was going to come offspeed. He hung the slider a little bit and I made good contact with it.”


The Gamecocks (40-23) had Justin Dalles reach on an error in the top of the 10th and pinch-runner Stephen Neff was sacrificed to second before a popout and a groundout ended the threat.


In the bottom of the frame, Kyle Roller ripped a one-out double and Brandon Henderson was intentionally walked. Following a flyout, USC ace Sam Dyson came on to face Harris. After falling behind 3-1, Harris ripped a base hit back up the middle. The throw to the plate arrived just after Roller slid safely across to give the Pirates their third regional title.


USC got a run in the second and Scott Wingo’s two-run homer capped a five-run third as the Gamecocks took an early 6-0 lead.


ECU left some runners on early before finally getting on the board in the fifth as Ryan Wood blasted a two-run homer, his 14th, to extend his hit streak to 10 and make it 6-2.


After USC added a run in the top of the sixth, Jared Avchen had a RBI double and Trent Whitehead had a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the frame as ECU pulled to within three at 7-4. The Pirates tacked on two more in the seventh on RBI singles by Dustin Harrington and Devin Harris to make it 7-6.


Jackie Bradley, Jr., gave USC some breathing room with a two-run homer in the eighth, his 11th, to give the Gamecocks a 9-6 advantage.


Harris matched career highs with four hits and five RBI. Roller had two hits and two runs for the Pirates.


Whit Merrifield went 4 for 6 with two runs and one RBI for USC. Bobby Haney had two hits and knocked in two for the Gamecocks.


“They were the No. 1 seed here and were trying to defend their turf,” USC head coach Ray Tanner said about the Pirates. “They have outstanding talent and they came through in a big way tonight.”


Pirate outfielder Trent Whitehead was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Greenville Regional. He was joined on the all-tournament team by Roller, Henderson, Ryan Wood and Kevin Brandt of ECU; Dalles, Haney, Bradley, and Blake Cooper of USC; and Dave Ciocchi and Corey Taylor of Binghamton.