GREENVLLE, N.C. - East Carolina's battery mates Tyler Joyner and Zach Wright each shined in game three of the Ninth Annual Keith LeClair Classic propelling the Pirates (5-1) to a 3-1 win over Western Carolina (4-2) Saturday afternoon at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium. The win follows ECU's first loss of the season, which came at the hands of Purdue in game two of the four-team event.
ECU's victory was highlighted by a dominating performance on the mound by the left-hander Joyner (2-0), who gave up just one run in seven innings of work, while striking out three. In two outings thus far, Joyner has surrendered just one run on four hits in 11 2/3 innings with seven punch outs.
The freshman duo of Tanner Merritt and Drew Reynolds capped a brilliant pitching performance on the mound for the Pirates, as the two right-handers combined for two shutout frames. Merritt registered his sixth strikeout of the season in the eighth stanza and Reynolds posted his team leading third save working a scoreless ninth.
WCU plated their only run against Joyner in the second frame when Jacob Hoyle scored on Adam Marin's sac fly to center, after doubling down the right field line to start the inning.
ECU was held scoreless through the first five innings by WCU's Morgan McKinney (1-1), who suffered the loss after allowing three runs (all earned) in the sixth frame. In all he was touched for nine hits but fanned three before handing the ball off to Preston Hatcher for the final two frames.
Trailing 1-0 in the sixth, ECU scored three runs and grabbed a lead it would not relinquish. With two outs and nobody on base, Corey Thompson singled up the middle to start the rally and advanced to third following Chase McDonald's single to right. John Wooten tied the game at one with an RBI single to left before Wright laced a game-winning, two-run double to left to give ECU the 3-1 lead.
Thompson led the Pirates nine-hit attack going 3-for-4 at the dish and was the lone batter with more than one hit for ECU.
The Pirates will close out the LeClair Classic Sunday, Feb. 26 at 2 p.m. (ET) when they play host to Maryland, who is undefeated in the tournament.