GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina left-hander Kevin Brandt tossed 8 1/3 shutout innings to lead the No. 24 Pirates past No. 1 North Carolina, 4-0, Wednesday at Clark-LeClair Stadium. The Tar Heels (32-11) were held to just five hits, as the Pirates (30-12) snapped a nine-game losing skid in the series dating to 2002.
Brandt (6-1) struck out a career-high 10 batters and scattered five hits and one walk. He allowed just one base hit before the seventh, and Seth Maness entered with the bases loaded in the ninth and recorded the final two outs to earn his second save.
After striking out 11 and carrying a no-hitter into the seventh against ECU April 7, Carolina right-hander Patrick Johnson (2-1) picked up where he left off Wednesday, holding the Pirates scoreless until the sixth. However, ECU broke through with four off Johnson in the sixth and seventh innings, and the Conover, N.C., native finished with four runs allowed on four hits and three walks over six-plus innings. He fanned eight tonight for 19 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings over two starts against the Pirates this year.
Dustin Ackley singled in the first to join Chad Flack as the only Tar Heels with 300 career hits for the lone base hit before the eighth inning. Kyle Seager singled in the ninth to extend his current hitting streak to 14 games.
No player had more than one base hit on the night, as the pitching staffs combined to allow just 11 total hits.
ECU threatened in the second when a Devin Harris double put runners at second and third with just one out. Johnson took over from there, striking out Drew Schieber looking and getting Dustin Harrington to fly out to right to end the inning and keep the Pirates off the board.
After Johnson struck out the side in the fifth, Ryan Wood broke the scoreless tie in the sixth with a solo homer to left center on a 2-2 pitch from Johnson.
ECU extended the lead to 4-0 lead in the seventh with a three-run outburst. Stephen Batts singled through the left side, stole second and took third on a wild throw by Carolina catcher Mark Fleury. After a walk to Harris, Schieber singled to right to drive in Batts and chase Johnson.
Nate Striz entered with two on and no one out, walked Harrington and allowed a two-run bloop single to left by Jared Avchen to give the Pirates a four-run cushion. Brian Moran, who tossed two scoreless frames, came on with two on and picked up three outs to prevent any further damage.
After stranding two in the eighth, the Tar Heels loaded the bases in the ninth, as Seager singled, Greenville native Ryan Graepel doubled off the wall in right center and Mike Cavasinni was hit by a pitch. Maness came on to strike out pinch hitter Brett Thomas and induce a liner to second from pinch hitter Tarron Robinson to end the game.
The crowd of 5,581 set a new Clark-LeClair Stadium record and is the largest to see a regular season college baseball game in the state of North Carolina.
ECU will return to the diamond Friday, April 24 when they play host to Southern Miss in Conference USA action. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. (EDT).
• Head Coach Billy Godwin picked up his 145th win as the Pirates skipper tying him for fifth place on the school’s all-time wins list with Hal Baird (1980-84).
• Kevin Brandt has not allowed a run since April 10, 2009 (Rice) which is a span of 20 2/3 innings. In two appearances against UNC, he has not allowed a run in 10 innings.
• Ryan Wood smacked his 28th career home run with his solo shot to left field in the sixth inning. He picked up his third game-winning RBI of the season.
• ECU snapped a nine-game losing streak at the hands of the Tar Heels with the win.
• In the last 11 days, the Pirates have defeated a pair of No. 1 teams (Rice and UNC) and now owns a 2-3 all-time record against top-ranked teams.
• ECU’s 30-12 record is the best start since the 2004 season when they started 36-6 through 42 games.