GREENVILLE, N.C. – Tyler Hibbert’s two RBI single in the eighth inning lifted FIU to a 2-1 victory and a series sweep over East Carolina Sunday afternoon in Conference USA action at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium. With the win the Panthers improve to 34-12 on the season and 14-10 in league play, while the Pirates fall to 28-21 and 13-11.
Trailing 1-0 in the eighth, L.K. Thompson drew a one-out walk and was immediately lifted for Kolby Follis as a pinch runner. Roche Woodard followed with a single through the right side moving Follis over to third before Woodard swiped second to move into scoring position. After David Lucroy got J.C. Escarra to go down swinging, Hibbert singled to shallow left field easily scoring both runners ahead of him for the game tying and winning runs.
Both starting pitchers were stellar on the sunny afternoon as Chris Mourelle (8-2) picked up the win for the Panthers. The right-hander allowed one run (earned) on six hits with three strikeouts in 7.1 innings before turning the game over to the bullpen. Mitchell Davis recorded one out and Mike Gomez closed out the contest tossing the final 1.1 innings for his eighth save of the season.
Lucroy (2-5) suffered the hard-luck loss despite giving up two runs (both earned) on three hits in eight innings. The red-shirt sophomore retired 20 of the first 23 batters through seven frames allowing a walk in the third, a single in the fifth and another free pass in the sixth. He set down the side in order in five of eight innings worked, and through seven frames did not face more than four hitters before the Panthers’ two-run eighth. Reid Love faced a pair of batters surrendering a hit before Drew Reynolds recorded two quick outs in the ninth.
In a scoreless game where both starting hurlers combined to allow just five runners to reach base through five frames, ECU finally broke through taking a 1-0 lead in the sixth. Charlie Yorgen led off with a base hit up the middle, which was followed by a Reynolds single to right field giving the Pirates runners at the corners. Zach Houchins plated Yorgen with another base knock to right staking ECU to a one-run lead.
ECU had a chance to tie the game in the final two stanzas but Gomez induced a ground out by Dylan Brown with two on in the eighth and got Joshua Lovick swinging to end the game.
For the second-straight game the Pirates outhit the Panthers, but came out on the wrong side of the scoreboard. ECU tallied six hits Sunday afternoon getting a pair from Reynolds, his 20th multi-hit contest of the year, and one base knock from Hunter Allen, Houchins, Ian Townsend and Yorgen.
ECU will head to Southern Miss this weekend for a pivotal three-game C-USA series in Hattiesburg, Miss. (May 9-11). Friday’s first pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET).