May 31, 2003
ATLANTA – Shortstop Darryl Lawhorn’s seventh inning grand slam broke a 3-3 tie and lifted No. 3 seed East Carolina (34-26-1) to a 10-3 victory over top-seeded Georgia Tech (44-18) in an elimination game Saturday at the NCAA Atlanta Regional at Russ Chandler Stadium.
With the loss, the Yellow Jackets, seeded third nationally, are eliminated after going 0-2 in NCAA Tournament play for the first time since 2001. With the comeback victory, the Pirates stay alive to face the loser of Saturday’s South Carolina-Stetson tilt at 7 p.m.
With the game knotted at three and the bases loaded in the seventh, Lawhorn homered to right center off Tech reliever Brian Burks to give the Pirates their first lead of the afternoon at 7-3. The home run was Lawhorn’s team-best 14th of the season. ECU added three more runs in the eighth to push the final margin to 10-3.
Tech got on the board first with a three-run home run to right by first baseman Clifton Remole in the first inning. The two-out rally started when left fielder Matt Murton was hit by a pitch. He then took third on a single up the middle by designated hitter Mike Nickeas before Remole cleared the bases with his fourth homer of the season. Pirate starter Ashley Capps allowed two more singles in the frame before exiting. He worked just 0.2 innings and gave up three earned runs on four hits.
East Carolina’s Glenn Tucker (5-4) came on for Capps and tossed 8.1 scoreless innings to earn the win. He allowed six hits and just one walk, while striking out six Yellow Jacket batters.
Down 3-0, the Pirates got back in the game with a pair of runs in the third. After back-to-back walks by Georgia Tech starter Kyle Bakker, ECU center fielder Ryan Jones singled through the right side, and first baseman Ryan Norwood singled to left field to cut the lead to 3-2. But Bakker settled down after the Pirates got on the board, retiring the 11 of the next 12 batters he faced before the Pirates broke the game open in the seventh.
After a pair of singles and walk loaded the bases, Bakker then walked Jones to tie the game at three. Following the bases-loaded walk, Bakker was relieved by Burks, who got one out before surrendering the grand slam. Bakker (8-3) took the loss after allowing six earned runs and seven hits over 6.1 innings. He walked four and struck out four as well. The defeat the first of Bakker’s career in NCAA Tournament play. Entering Saturday’s action, he was 3-0 with a 0.75 earned run average in the postseason.
The Pirates plated three runs in the eighth on a two-run single by right fielder Ben Sanderson and a RBI single from Norwood. Jones went 3-for-4, while left fielder Jamie Paige and Norwood each added a pair of hits to pace the Pirate offense. Remole, center fielder Steven Blackwood and third baseman Micah Owings each had two hits for Tech.