GREENVILLE, N.C. -Junior Rick Niederhaus’ two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning gave Monmouth a 4-3 win over East Carolina Friday night at Lewis Field at Clark-LeClair Stadium. Monmouth, which opened the season with a win for a second straight year, scored three runs in the top of the ninth to top the Pirates, who opened the season as the No. 24 team in the nation.
Down to his final strike, Niederhaus took a Sthil Sowers pitch to right field giving the Hawks (1-0) a 4-2 lead. With two outs in the frame, Shawn Teters picked up his third hit of the game with a single up the middle to get the rally going. Andy Meyers followed with a single down the right field line, which plated Teters after a Jamie Ray throwing error.
"The kids played their hearts out," said head coach Dean Ehehalt, a graduate of East Carolina. "One great play after another gave us a chance to win. We pitched out of jams and made good plays against a NCAA Regional Champion caliber team."
In the bottom half of the inning, sophomore Kyle Roller blasted his second home run of the season to right center off of Justin Esposito to pull the Pirates (1-4) within one, 4-3.
Esposito picked up his first save of the year, working one inning and allowing one run on one hit. Brad Brach worked six strong innings of his own allowing just one on five hits with three punch outs in his first start of the season before giving way to his brother Brett in the seventh frame. Brett Brach, bridged the gap surrendering one run on two hits, earned his first victory of the season.
Freshman Sthil Sowers suffered his first loss of the season giving up three runs on three hits in 2 1/3 innings. Pirate starter T.J. Hose bounced back from his rough first outing at South Carolina, turning in a strong 6 2/3 innings allowing one run on seven hits with five strikeouts. Junior Matt Cox relieved Hose in the seventh and faced one batter in his Pirate debut.
Stephen Batts, who was 1-for-3 on the night, singled up the middle with one out in the fourth giving ECU an early 1-0 advantage. Junior Ryan Wood got the inning going by doubling down the left field line before touching home on Batts’ base knock.
Monmouth knotted the game at one in the fifth inning on Teters two-out single to center plating John Dennis. With one out Dennis singled up the middle then advanced to second on Kyle Higgins’ walk before tying the game.
Corey Kemp put the Pirates up 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh on a solo shot to left field off of Brett Brach. It was his first homer of the season and sixth in a Pirate uniform.
Offensively the Pirates collected eight hits with Wood and Kemp each collecting a pair. For the Hawks, Teters slapped three base hits while Neiderhaus and Rob Williams each had two.
ECU and Monmouth will play game two of the three-game series Saturday, March 1 at 2 p.m. Sophomore Ryan Buch takes the hill for the Hawks.