GREENVILLE, N.C. - Senior Kevin Brandt tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings and struck out nine, while Philip Clark, Jack Reinheimer and John Wooten each collected a pair of hits as East Carolina (1-0) opened the 2012 season with a 4-0 win over Milwaukee (0-1) Friday afternoon at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Brandt (1-0) faced one over the minimum through five innings recording six strikeouts, which included four-straight through in the second and third frames. The southpaw got some help from his defense, especially from Wooten at first base, who turned a 3-6-3 double play in the second after Sam Koeing led off the stanza with a single through the left side thwarting a potential Panther big inning.
Drew Reynolds notched his first career save after entering the game with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth. The Cherryville, N.C. native fanned Ryan Solberg on three-straight pitches ending the Panther threat and securing the win. Tanner Merritt retired all four batters he faced working a scoreless 1 1/3 innings with a pair of strikeouts and redshirt freshman Dario Santangelo made his collegiate debut going two-thirds of an inning giving up a hit and walking a batter before giving the ball to Reynolds.
Reinheimer, who batted leadoff for the first time in his young Pirate career, set the tone in the bottom of the first when he took a first pitch offering from Eric Semmelhack over the wall in left center staking ECU to an early 1-0 lead. The Pirates load the bases on a pair of walks and two infield base hits, but Semmelhack responded by fanning Ben Fultz to get out of the jam.
While Brandt cruised through the next four frames, his offense strung together hits but was unable to capitalize until the bottom of the fifth when they plated a pair of runs to extend the lead to three, 3-0. Senior Corey Thompson laced a 0-1 offering to left and took third when Zach Wright reached on a fielding error at third by Koeing, putting runners at first and second with one out. Thompson moved up to third on Chase McDonald’s long fly out to center before coming home on a double steal for the frames first run. Wright, who swiped his 10th career base on the afternoon, took third on a wild pitch and came home when catcher Will Fadness tried to pick him off at third during Wooten’s stolen base attempt, where Fadness hit Wright with the throw that caromed towards the Pirate dugout pushing across Wright.
Junior College transfer Jay Cannon capped the Pirates scoring on the day in the sixth when he scored on Clark’s second infield base hit of the day making the score 4-0. Cannon, who was 1-for-4 in his Pirate debut, ripped a leadoff double to left center, took third on Reinheimer’s groundout and darted home on Clark’s second base hit of the contest.
Semmelhack (0-1) took the loss for the Panthers allowing all four runs (two earned) on eight hits with four walks and four punch outs in five innings. Greg Blohowiak and Alex Erdmann tossed the final three frames holding the Pirates scoreless and surrendering three hits.
The Pirates and Panthers will play a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 18 starting at 12 noon due to potential inclement weather in the area on Sunday. The second game of the twin bill will start approximately 45 minutes after the conclusion of the first.