The 28th-ranked East Carolina Pirates rallied from a 7-3 deficit heading into the eighth inning and scored nine runs over the final two innings to claim a 12-7 non-conference baseball victory over the home-standing Elon Phoenix in front of 1,002 fans from Latham Park on Wednesday night. The loss snapped Elon’s four-game winning streak and dropped the Phoenix to 26-8 on the year. With the win, the Pirates took two of the three meetings from Elon this season and improved to 23-9.
Elon jumped on top of the Pirates in the first inning. Harry Austin began the game by being hit with a 1-0 pitch before going to second on Donny Jobe’s sacrifice bunt. Bennett Davis lined a single through the right side of the infield to drove home Harry Austin from second for his team-leading 42nd RBI of the season.
ECU got even in the second. Back-to-back one-out singles from Kyle Roller and Brandon Henderson put runners on first and second. After a passed ball moved up both runners, Jamie Ray grounded out to second to plate Roller.
The Phoenix threatened in the bottom of the second when Chase Austin led off with a walk and went all the way to third on when the throw from the pitcher got away on a pick-off attempt. Mike Melillo’s ground out scored Chase Austin with Elon’s second run of the night.
Elon upped its edge to 3-1 in the third inning. Harry Austin reached on an infield single before going to second on a ground out and to third on a passed ball. Davis grounded out to plate Harry Austin with the third Phoenix tally in as many innings.
The Phoenix bats stayed hot in the fourth as Cory Harrilchak singled to begin the at bat. Chase Austin followed with his first triple of the season to bring home Harrilchak. Neal Pritchard followed with a sac fly to right-center, scoring Chase Austin.
With two down in the top of the fifth, Harrison Eldridge drew a 3-2 walk and came around to score on Ryan Wood’s triple down the rightfield line.
The Pirates pulled within 5-3 when Corey Kemp blasted a solo homer to centerfield, his ninth of the season. With one away, Henderson and Ray reached on back-to-back singles. Elon got Henderson hung up between second and third on a pickoff attempt. Henderson made it back to the bag at second, but Ray was also occupying the bag. Chase Austin applied a tag to Henderson, but was not called out. After Ray was tug and ruled out, Henderson stepped off the base and was tug by Austin for the final out of the inning.
Melillo’s two-run bomb to right in the bottom of the sixth extended Elon’s advantage to 7-3. Riding home on Melillo’s second homer of the year was Harrilchak who led the frame off with a walk.
Henderson hit his seventh homer of the season in the top of the eighth, a two-run shot that scored Roller with one out. A second two-run bomb in the seventh, this one by Broc Sutton scored Dustin Harrington to knot the game at 7-7. It was the first career home run for Sutton. After two singles and a walk loaded the bases, Phoenix closer Thomas Girdwood walked in the go-ahead run on a 3-1 pitch. Roller delivered two with a single through the right side to build the ECU lead to 10-7.
Sutton delivered his second two-run shot of the game in the top of the ninth.
For Elon, Melillo went drove in three runs with a 1-for-4 outing while Davis finished with two RBI in a 1-for-3 night.
Sutton was 3-for-5 with two runs scored and three driven in while Kemp, Roller and Henderson all finished with two RBI for the Pirates.
Elon wasted a solid starting effort from Ken Ferrer who threw 5.0 innings and allowed just two runs (one earned) five hits. The freshman righty also struck out four and left the game with a 5-2 lead. Jared Kernodle, one of Elon’s most dependable arms out of the pen, suffered the loss to fall to 0-1. He gave up three runs on two hits and a walk in just 0.1 inning.
Josh Ruhlman upped his record to 3-1 after throwing the final 2.2 innings, shutting out the Phoenix and not allowing a hit in that span. The last hit for Elon was Melillo’s homer. Starter Daniel Holder was chased after just 1.2 innings. Holder allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits.
ECU returns home Friday to begin a three-game C-USA series against Marshall starting at 6pm.