CHARLOTTE, N.C. – East Carolina scored four runs in the final two frames erasing a two-run deficit to take game one of the three game Conference USA series from Charlotte, 5-3, Friday night at Hayes Stadium.
Trailing 3-2 in the ninth, ECU (11-11, 4-3 C-USA) got the first six batters of the frame to reach via a hit or walk scoring three runs and taking a 5-3 advantage. Dylan Brown started the three-run frame with a single to right field, which was followed by a Drew Reynolds walk and Zach Houchins infield single on a bunt to third. Ian Townsend knotted the game at three-all with a RBI base knock through the right side and Bryce Harman drew his third free pass of the night scoring Reynolds for the game-winner. The Pirates final run came when Ben Fultz reached on another infield single plating Houchins.
Ryan Williams (7-1) picked up his NCAA-leading seventh win out of the bullpen tossing two scoreless innings in relief allowing a hit, one walk and striking out two. Jeff Hoffman went seven innings in the no-decision allowing three runs (all earned) on six hits with a pair of walks and strikeouts. The right-hander allowed just four runners to reach through six innings before Charlotte (3-14-1, 0-7 C-USA) scored a pair of runs in the seventh.
Nate Traugh (0-2) suffered the hard-luck loss allowing two runs (both earned) on one hit with a walk in two-thirds of an inning. Starter Corey Roberts worked 6.1 innings giving up one run (earned) on five hits with four walks and two strikeouts. The 49ers also got bullpen work from Jason Harris (1.0 IP, run), Hunter May (0.0 IP, run), Jordan Hudson (0.0 IP hit) and Logan Sherer (1.0 IP, strikeout).
The Pirates, who trailed 3-1 in the eighth, pulled within one on Reid Love’s fielder’s choice RBI that scored Ian Townsend from third. With the bases loaded and one out, Love sent a dribbler to short forcing Luke Lowery out at second, but a late throw by Niner second baseman T.J. Nichting on the double-play attempt allowing Townsend to cross home.
Charlotte took and early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third on Nitching’s second hit of the contest, an RBI single to right, that scored Zach Jarrett from third. Jarrett roped a single to start the stanza to left center and moved around the bases on sacrifice bunt and ground out before scoring.
The Pirates tied the game at one-all in the seventh on Reynolds’ RBI ground out. Hunter Allen singled up the middle with one out and Brown’s fourth double of the season put runners on second and third before Reynolds’ ground ball to the hot corner.
Back-to-back RBI singles by Eric Eason and Derek Gallello pushed across a pair of runs giving Charlotte a 3-1 lead in the seventh. With one out, Brett Lang drew a walk and took third on Brad Elwood’s single through the left side. After Hoffman retired Zach Jarrett swinging, Eason blasted a single to right field plating Lang and Gallello singled to right easily plating Elwood.
Offensively ECU pounded out 11 hits behind three from Brown and a pair from Fultz and Townsend. Harman drew a career-best three free passes, while Reynolds added a pair and Townsend got one accounting for all six walks.
The Pirates and 49ers will conclude the three-game series Saturday, Mar. 22 when they play a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. (ET).