Feb. 12, 2006
BOCA RATON, Fla. - East Carolina's Beth Nolan hit a two-out walk-off home run to lift the Pirates over South Carolina 2-1 and claim the championship game of the Worth Invitational. The Gamecocks' Christie Hamilton (2-1) recorded 10 strikeouts but it wasn't enough as USC fell to 3-2. ECU improved to 5-0 while pitcher Keli Harrell improved to 3-0 and was named tournament MVP.
Lisa Longo went 3-for-3 at the plate, while McKenna Hughes hit her second home run of the tournament. The Gamecocks recorded six hits while ECU had four. Ashton Payne and Jessica Josker provided USC's additional hits.
Hughes put the Gamecocks on the board early once again as she hit a two-out home run to left field and put USC up 1-0. The home run marks the 17th of Hughes' career, and ranks fourth all-time among USC leaders.
Hamilton retired the first eight batters before the Pirates got a baserunner. Ashley Quick drew a walk in the third inning but the inning ended at the hands of the next batter when Hamilton struck out Vanessa Moreno.
ECU led off the fourth with a single by Erin St. Ledger for the Pirates first hit of the game. ECU's second hit of the game was an RBI single by Jessica Johnson to score Brently Bridgeforth, who pinch ran for St. Ledger, and tied the game 1-1.
South Carolina threatened in the top of the sixth when Hamilton reached on a throwing error by ECU and advanced to second on a single by Longo, her third of the game. USC's rally was halted when Harrell struck out the next two batters to prevent any runs from scoring and ended the inning.
In the bottom half of the sixth, Chrissy Schoonmaker made two very impressive catches in left field for the first two outs. Krista Jessup snuck in with a double deep to left field to give ECU the go ahead run at second, but Hamilton clamped down and struck out Johnson for her ninth of the game.
In the bottom of the seventh, ECU had two outs with a strikeout and a foul out but it was a deep shot to left field that ended the game for the Gamecocks. Nolan's home run was the first that Hamilton had allowed on the season.
The Gamecocks return to action Wednesday, Feb. 15 when they host Winthrop in a 3 p.m. doubleheader. The start time for the home opener has changed from 4 p.m. to 3 p.m. The games can be followed live on uscsports.com via Gametracker and live audio webcast.
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