GREENVILLE, N.C. - Senior lefty Kevin Brandt (4-2) tossed eight shutout innings as No. 27 East Carolina (21-8, 5-2 C-USA) cruised to a 10-3 victory over Houston (11-17, 1-6 C-USA) Thursday night at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.
The Pirates plated four runs in the bottom of the second and six more in the fifth as part of a 14-hit attack. Tim Younger and Ben Fultz led the club offensively as each recorded a pair of hits and two RBIs. Zach Wright (2-for-4) and Chase McDonald (2-for-4) also enjoyed multi-hit performances, while both players drove in a run. Senior third baseman Corey Thompson contributed a trio of RBI.
East Carolina wasted little time jumping out on Houston starter Jared Ray (1-4). Wright led off the second with a single up the middle before advancing to second on a McDonald groundout. Jack Reinheimer struck out looking, but Fultz followed by sparking a two-out, four-run rally with an RBI single to center. Fultz stole second and then came around to score on Younger’s run-scoring single to left. Bryan Bass reached on a fielding error, putting runners at the corners for Thompson, who drove a 2-2 offering from Ray down the right-field line for a two-run double.
The Pirates chased Ray from the game before the right-hander could record an out in the fifth frame. Drew Reynolds, Jay Cannon, Wright, McDonald and Reinheimer all reached on singles to begin the stanza to extend the lead to 6-0. Ray was relieved by Chris Morales with nobody out and the bases loaded. Fultz, Younger and Bass all drew run-scoring free passes off Morales to push the lead to 9-0 before Thompson capped the ECU scoring with an RBI sacrifice fly to deep left.
Ray allowed nine runs (seven earned) on 10 hits while walking three and striking out four in four innings. Morales did not record an out and allowed one earned run while walking three Pirates.
Houston lefty Matt Hernandez held East Carolina scoreless for the remainder of the game, scattering four hits in as many innings while striking out five.
The 10-run outburst provided Brandt with plenty of cushion to work his mastery on the mound as the Fuquay Varina, N.C. native fanned six batters while walking just one in eight dominant innings. He surrendered four hits and Houston only reached third base once against the southpaw.
Freshman right-hander Deshorn Lake closed out the game on the hill for the Pirates yielding three unearned runs on four hits in the ninth while striking out one.
Codey Morehouse (2-for-4) and Cory Kay (2-for-2) were the only Cougars to have multi-hit games.
With the victory, East Carolina extended its home winning streak to eight games dating back to March 16. The triumph also marks Billy Godwin’s 500th career win as a collegiate head coach and 238th as the Pirate skipper.
The series will resume Friday evening at 6 p.m. (EST) as reigning Conference USA Pitcher-of-the-Week Tyler Joyner (4-0, 2.66 ERA) squares off against Houston’s Jordan Lewis (3-4, 5.23 ERA).
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