GREENVILLE, N.C. - Senior Jared Avchen was 2-for-3 at the plate with three RBI and freshman Joseph Hughes picked up his first collegiate win as No. 16 East Carolina topped in-state foe Gardner-Webb 8-5 Tuesday night at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium. With the win the Pirates improve to 9-6, while the Bulldogs drop to 7-11.
Hughes (1-0), who was making his second appearance of the season and his first collegiate start, allowed five runs (two earned) on nine hits with five strikeouts in 5.2 innings. After being touched for three runs on four hits in the first inning, Hughes settled down scattering five hits over the 4.2 innings including retiring the side in the second, third and fourth frames. In the sixth he gave up two hits that resulted in a pair of runs before being lifted for Sthil Sowers, who got out the Pirates out of the inning surrendering one hit. Sowers worked 2.1 scoreless innings with a punch out and closer Seth Simmons picked up his fifth save with a strikeout in the ninth to secure the win.
Conner Scarborough (0-3) allowed six runs (all earned) on eight hits with three walks and a strikeout in five innings. Brandon Boiling gave up two runs on one hit with four strikeouts in an inning of relief, while Jeff Howell shutdown the Pirates with a perfect final two frames.
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first thanks to a three-run home run by Josh Drewery, his third of the season. Daniel Merck led off with double to left center before Aaron Miller reached on a fielding error by Corey Thompson setting up Drewery’s shot to left field.
ECU knotted the game at three in the second on home runs by John Wooten and Chris Gosik. Thompson singled through the left side for his lone hit of the night to start the frame then came around to score on Wooten’s two-run shot to left. With two-outs, Gosik tattooed a 2-0 pitch off Scarborough also to left field for his first collegiate home.
Avchen’s two-RBI double highlighted a three-run fourth that gave the Pirates the lead for good at 6-3. Wooten drew an opening frame walk and then moved to second on Devin Harris’ single through the left side setting up Philip Clark’s RBI single to left for the Pirates first run. After a double steal moved Harris and Clark up 90 feet, Avchen laced a 1-0 offering down the left field line clearing the bases.
Back-to-back two-out hits drew the Bulldogs within one, 6-5 in the sixth inning. With O.J. McFarland sitting on third, Matt Sapp slapped a double down the left field line for Gardner-Webb’s first run. Adam McFarland followed with a RBI single through the right side pushing across Sapp.
ECU countered with a run in the sixth on Avchen’s sac fly that scored Harris and padded its lead with another run in the seventh when Kyle Roller scored on Harris’ sac fly to cap the scoring at 8-5.
Five of ECU’s nine hits came at the hands of underclassmen with Clark going 2-for-4 at the dish. Both Clark and Gosik each recorded their first collegiate hits and RBI, while Wooten smacked his team leading fourth home run. Dustin Harrington saw his 22-game hit streak come to an end with a 0-for-3 performance at the plate.
The Pirates will be back in action Wednesday night when they travel to High Point for the second of five games this week. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. (EDT).
• Attendance: 2,553
• Dustin Harrington’s hit streak ended at 22 games, which was the fourth-longest in school history.
• Seth Simmons had made nine appearances on the season recording win against South Carolina (2/27) before converting five straight saves. With his save Tuesday night, he moves into a tie for second place on the school’s all-time charts with All-American Greg Bunn (2002-04) with 16.
• John Wooten now leads the team in home runs (4) and RBI (12), while sharing the team lead in runs (12). He recorded his fifth multi-RBI game on his two-run homer in the second inning.
• Chris Gosik’s first collegiate hit was a solo home run in the second inning that tied the game at three.
• Philip Clark got his first start in center field for Trent Whitehead, who sat out because of flu-like symptoms. He recorded his first collegiate hit in the fourth inning and followed that with an RBI single in the sixth.
• Sthil Sowers has not allowed an earned run in nine innings of relief work. His lone strikeout in the seventh pushed his season total to nine.