GREENVILLE, N.C. - Alfredo Rodriguez’ RBI single in the top of the ninth lifted Maryland (5-1) to a 2-1 victory over No. 20 East Carolina (5-2) in the final game of the Ninth Annual Keith LeClair Classic at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium Sunday afternoon.
With the score knotted at one, Rodriguez stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and singled through the left side scoring Andrew Amaro for the go ahead run. KJ Hockaday reached on a fielder’s choice bunt then took third on a pair of ECU throwing errors following Jack Cleary’s at-bat putting two runners in scoring position. Tanner Merritt (0-1) hit Charlie White to load the bases for Rodriguez, whose base hit came off of reliever Drew Reynolds.
The Pirates had a chance to tie it up in the bottom of the ninth, but Jimmy Reed shut the door on a potential rallied recording a pair of pop ups for his third save of the season. John Wooten started the frame with a free pass off of Korey Wacker (1-0) and took second on Zach Wright’s sac bunt after a Terps pitching change. Reed then got Jay Cannon to pop up to second and Jonathan Holt to fly out to right field to end the ball game.
ECU jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third thanks to pair of Maryland miscues. Tim Younger, who batted .429 on the weekend, drew an opening frame walk and then took second on an errant throw by starter Brett Harman. Philip Clark followed with a one-out single to right pushing Younger to third and another failed pick off attempt to first, allowed Younger to cross home for the game first run.
Maryland answered with a run in the top of the fifth frame, tying the game at one. Ryan Holland laced a leadoff double down the right field line but was thrown out on the next play when Hagel tried to move him over to third on a sac bunt. With Hagel sitting on second, Hockaday followed with shot to left field plating the tying run.
The Terps bullpen held the Pirates hitless over four innings of work allowing three walks and only one runner into scoring position, which came in the ninth stanza.
Jharel Cotton made his second start for the purple and gold allowing one run (earned) on five hits with a walk and two punch outs in 4 1/3 innings. Andy Smithmyer continued to impress coming out of the bullpen and tossing 3 1/3 scoreless frames allowing three hits and striking out four. Merritt suffered the loss giving up the go ahead run and exited after two-thirds of an inning. Reynolds recorded the final two outs entering the contest with the bases loaded in the ninth allowing a hit and fanning two.
Harman worked five full frames for Maryland holding ECU’s offense to just five hits and one runs with four punch outs. Michael Boyden (2.0 IP) walked a pair, Wacker (1.0 IP) issued a free pass and Reed (1.0 IP) tossed a scoreless ninth.
The Pirates will be back in action next Friday, March 2 when they play host to Stony Brook at 5 p.m. (ET).