GREENVILLE, N.C. - Corey Thompson’s two-RBI double to right center highlighted a four-run seventh inning that propelled No. 11 East Carolina a 7-5 win over Illinois in game two of the Seventh Annual Keith LeClair Classic Friday afternoon at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Trailing 4-3 going into the bottom of the seventh Dustin Harrington started the four-run rally for the Pirates (5-3) with a leadoff double to left center. Kyle Roller followed with a walk before John Wooten put runners on the corner with a fielder’s choice. Austin Homan knotted the game at four with a RBI single down the left field line plating Harrington. Thompson, who has driven in at least one run in six-straight games, laced a double right center clearing the bases to put ECU up 6-4. Cam Freeman added an additional run on a sac fly that scored Thompson, who advanced earlier on a wild pitch.
Patrick Somers (1-0) got the win despite facing one batter to close out the seventh inning. Starter Kevin Brandt had another superb outing tossing six strong innings allowing one run on five hits with a season-best seven strikeouts. Mike Wright was touched for three runs on four hits in 0.2 of a inning, while Zach Woods made his second relief appearance of the year striking out the side in the eighth. Junior Seth Simmons (1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 Ks) closed the game recording his second save on the season and 13th of his career.
Bryan Roberts dropped to 0-1 for the Illini (1-3) after giving up the go-ahead run in the seventh before being pulled for Mike Sterk. In all, Roberts allowed two runs on two hits with a strikeout. Will Strack got the nod on the bump lasting five innings where the Pirates plated three runs (all earned) on five hits.
The Pirates jumped out to a 3-0 lead scoring runs in the third, fourth and fifth frames. Jared Avchen drove in the game’s first run on a fielder’s choice that scored Cam Freeman from third. Freeman, who was 2-for-3 on the day, singled to left to start the inning then stole second and advanced to third on an errant throw catcher Aaron Jackson.
Freeman smacked his second career home run in the fourth and John Wooten drove home Harrington to give ECU a 3-0 advantage.
The Illini pulled ahead 4-3 in the seventh erasing a three-run lead. Craig Lutes laced a one-out double down the left field line then took third on Josh Parr’s single to right. Willie Argo singled home Lutes to pull within one, 3-2. After a Wright wild pitch moved the runners up 90 feet, Johnson ripped a double to left center clearing the bases and giving Illinois its only lead of the game.
The Pirates will be back on the diamond Saturday afternoon when they square off against West Virginia with a 3 p.m. first pitch scheduled.
• Attendance: 2,823
• Kyle Roller was plunked twice and walked once in the game … He extended his school record to 42 hit by pitches.
• Cam Freeman collected his fourth career multi-hit game when he stroked a solo shot to left center in the fourth inning … He also posted his second multi-RBI game.
• Dustin Harrington led the Pirates with three hits and extended his current hitting streak 16 games with his infield single in the fifth inning … He pushing his career multi-hit total to 52.
• Corey Thompson drove in two runs in the seventh for his fourth career multi-RBI game … All nine of Thompson’s RBIs have come in the last six games dating back to the series finale against Virginia.
• Devin Harris collected his 22nd career multi-hit game with his 2-for-3 performance from the dish.
• Seth Simmons now has 13 career saves, two shy of moving into a tie for third place on the school’s all-time list with Shane Mathews.
• With the win, ECU improves to 7-0 all-time in LeClair Classic openers.