GREENVILLE — Binghamton had a four-run lead after four innings, but East Carolina scored eight runs in the top of the fifth inning en route to a 16-9 win in the elimination game of the NCAA Greenville Regional Sunday.
East Carolina starter Brad Mincey was hit for seven runs in the first four innings and he was kept in the game after visits to the mound. He completed the game, allowing nine runs, five earned, on 11 hits for the win.
East Carolina will face South Carolina at approximately 6:10 p.m. Another win would force one final game against the Gamecocks, undefeated so far in this regional, on Monday at 6 p.m.
East Carolina struck first in the contest, scoring a pair of runs in the first inning, with leadoff hitter Trent Whitehead scoring on a failed pickoff attempt and then the game’s hero, Kyle Roller, batting in Ryan Wood.
Roller went 4-for-5 and hit two home runs in the Pirates’ eight-run eighth inning.
Whitehead’s hit in the second inning was his 100th hit of the season, which ranks him second all-time in the Pirates’ record books.
In the fourth inning, at Whitehead’s next at-bat, he fouled a ball off of his ankle, and laid on the ground, prompting a visit from coach Billy Godwin and the team trainer for a few minutes.
But Whitehead got up and on the next pitch, hit an RBI double, scoring Zach Wright from second base.
And that was all for Binghamton starter Walker McKinven, who left the game with the Bearcats leading 4-3 and Whitehead at second.
McKinven was charged with three runs on six hits over 4 1/3 innings, and reliever Morgan Smith took the mound for Binghamton.
Binghampton scored four runs in the third inning and three more in the fourth, to go up 7-3. Dave Ciocchi had a two-run single in the third and a three-run triple in the fourth inning.
But it wasn’t enough and the Binghamton pitching staff faced 12 batters in the eight-run fifth.
Roller led off the inning with a home run and pinch hitter Austin Homan batted in a pair of runs on a single later in the inning to cut the deficit to 7-6, forcing another Binghamton pitching change.
Bearcats reliever James Giulietti entered the game with one-out and men on first and third. Two pitches later, Whitehead tied the game at 7-7 with an RBI single.And Batts put the Pirates up 9-7, batting in a pair of runs on a double.
Roller’s second hit in the inning was even sweeter than the first, another home run that scored two this time and put the Pirates up 11-7.
East Carolina tacked on a few more runs in the top of the seventh inning.
Brandon Henderson’s fly ball to center field scored Corey Thompson, and Dustin Harrington’s RBI single scored Stephen Batts to put East Carolina up 13-7.
Binghamton’s Peter Bregartner hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning, cutting East Carolina’s lead to 13-9.
East Carolina scored again in the eighth inning on Corey Thompson’s RBI single, which scored Drew Scheiber for a 14-9 lead.
In the ninth inning, Scheiber added a two-run home run for good measure and a 16-9 lead.