GREENVILLE, N.C. - Freshman Jack Reinheimer collected a career-best four hits, drove in two and scored a pair of runs to help lead East Carolina (23-11, 5-5) to a 12-6 Conference USA opening series win over UCF (21-13, 3-7) Friday night at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Reinheimer, who was 4-for-4 on the night, reached base five times and recorded a pair of base knocks in the third frame when the Pirates batted around after plating six runs for a 9-1 lead. Zach Wright was 3-for-4 with two RBI, while Ben Fultz and Philip Clark each added a pair of hits and two RBI.
Seth Maness (5-3) snapped a two-game conference losing streak Friday picking up the win after working six full innings where he allowed one run (earned) on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts. For the senior right-hander, it was his 33rd career victory which moves him into sole possession of second place on ECU's all-time wins list and into a tie for second with Scott Glaser (USF/1996-99) on C-USA's all-time charts. A trio of hurlers in Tanner Merritt (4 Hs, 3 Rs, 3 ERs, 2 Ks), Joseph Hughes (BB, K) and Mike Anderson (2 Hs, 2 Rs, 2 ERs, BB) each tossed an inning in relief to secure the win.
Ben Lively (5-1) suffered his first loss as a collegiate pitcher after being roughed up for eight runs (all earned) on five hits in two innings with three free passes and a punch out. Bryan Brown was touched for four runs (three earned) on seven hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 4.2 innings and Brennan Dobbins tossed a scoreless 1.1 innings to close the game.
Fultz' leadoff home run in the bottom of the first on the second pitch he saw highlighted a three-run frame as the Pirates jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Reinheimer and Trent Whitehead followed Fultz' third round-tripper of the season with consecutive walks and would later score thanks to a pair of Lively wild pitches, a Wright ground out and John Wooten's single through the right side.
UCF responded with a run in the top half of the second on Derek Luciano's sac fly cutting ECU's lead to two, 3-1. Jonathan Griffin doubled to left field to start the frame and took third on Chris Taladay's double off the wall in right center before crossing home on Luciano's fly out to right field.
ECU matched its season-high for runs in an inning when they plated six in the bottom of the third on five hits to take a commanding 9-1 lead. Reinheimer singled through the left side and advanced to second when Whitehead was plunked by a Lively pitch. Wright followed with a RBI single scoring Reinheimer. Wooten followed with a walk and Corey Thompson stroked a two-RBI base hit to right field putting runners on the corners. Clark reached on a RBI bunt single scoring Wooten, Tim Younger sent a soft fly to center scoring Thompson and Reinheimer closed the stanza with a RBI single up the middle.
The Pirates would score a run in the fourth on Clark's second hit of the game, a single through the right side that sent Wright home and added a pair in the seventh on Fultz' RBI triple to right center scoring Younger and Reinheimer's RBI shot through the right side.
UCF added three in the seventh and two in the ninth to cap the scoring at 12-6. Junior catcher Beau Taylor, who was 2-for-3, paced the Knights offensively with three RBI and a pair of runs, while Darnell Sweeney was 2-for-5 with two RBI.
The two teams will continue the three-game series Saturday, April 16 at 11 a.m. (originally scheduled for 5 p.m. but moved due to the threat of inclement weather).