TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Senior Kevin Brandt scattered six hits over eight innings and recorded seven strikeouts as No. 29 East Carolina defeated Alabama 3-1 on the opening day of the DRASH Alabama Baseball Classic at Sewell-Thomas Stadium Friday night. With the win the Pirates improve to 9-3, while the Crimson Tide drops to 5-8.
Brandt, who improved to 3-1 on the season, allowed one run in eight frames and had his 12.0 scoreless streak snapped when Austen Smith scored in the fourth inning. Sophomore Tanner Merritt notched his second save of the season tossing a scoreless ninth where he fanned two and allowed a pair of hits.
After a scoreless opening two innings, East Carolina got on the board in the top of third, notching three runs in the frame to take a 3-0 advantage. Ben Fultz and Bryan Bass both reached base on a pair of singles, then later scored on Corey Thompson’s two-out double to deep centerfield. The Pirates added one more run on an RBI single by Chase McDonald to round out the scoring in the inning.
The Crimson Tide the lead to two, 3-1, Brett Booth’s fielder’s choice, scoring Smith who opened the inning with a double.
Alabama threatened in the fifth, putting runners on first and second with just one out, but Jared Reaves lined into an inning ending double play at first on a hit-and-run situation. McDonald, who made his first start at first base this season, snared Reaves’ line drive thwarting a potential rally. The Tide also put a pair of runners on in the bottom of the ninth, bringing the winning run to the plate with two outs, before striking out to end the game.
UA junior right-hander Charley Sullivan (2-2) delivered a sterling effort in a losing cause, pitching a career-high 8.0 innings, while allowing three runs on eight hits, striking out five. Jon Keller retired the Pirates in order in the ninth with one strikeout.
Sophomore Drew Reynolds led the pirates with a 2-for-4 performance at the dish, while Thompson drove in two runs for his 33rd career multi-hit game.
The Pirates will be back in action on Saturday, Mar. 10 when they play Oral Roberts at 1 p.m. (ET) in the first game of day two at DRASH Alabama Baseball Classic.
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