WILMINGTON, N.C. - Freshman Jeff Hoffman struck out a career-best seven batters and Jay Cannon drove in three runs as No. 27 East Carolina (20-8) blanked UNC Wilmington (15-13) 5-0 Tuesday night at Brooks Field.
Hoffman, who made his third start of the season, picked up his first career win on the mound scattering five hits over six scoreless innings of work where he allowed a pair of walks. Redshirt sophomore Tanner Merritt notched his fifth save of the year closing out the final 1 2/3 innings with a walk. Jake Harris (0.1 IP) and Dylan Dickens (0.2 IP) bridged the gap to Merritt in the eighth.
ECU jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the third inning thanks RBI base hit by Cannon and Ben Fultz. Drew Reynolds walked to start the frame, which was followed by a Corey Thompson single and another walk by John Wooten loading the bases for Cannon’s two-RBI single over the third baseman’s head plating Reynolds and Thompson. Zach Wright’s fly ball to right field moved Wooten over to third and Fultz picked him up with a single through the right side for the final run of the stanza.
Hanging on to a three-run advantage going to the ninth, ECU padded its lead to five after plating a pair in the last frame of the game. Tim Younger singled to right to start the stanza, which was followed by Reynolds base knock to left field and Thompson loaded the bases with an infield single to third. After UNCW changed pitchers, Wooten reached on fielder’s choice where Younger was thrown out at home by Michael Bass at second. Thomas Jones plunked Cannon with one out and the bases juiced scoring Reynolds. Wright followed with a walk plating Thompson and capping the scoring at 5-0.
UNCW starter Travis Bradley (0-1) suffered the loss after working 2 1/3 innings allowing three runs (all earned) on three hits with three walks. Jack Lane entered the game in the third getting the Seahawks out of jam before turning the ball over to Ricky Holden. The right-hander shut the Pirates offense down scattering three hits over 4 1/3 innings with one punch out. Tyler DeLoach was touched for a pair of runs in the ninth on four hits in two-thirds of an inning. Jones (0.1) and Tom Timoney (0.2 IP) closed out the ninth on the mound.
ECU pounded out double-digit hits for the fourth-straight game finishing the night with 11. Ben Fultz, Reynolds, Thompson, Wright and Younger each had two base knocks, while Cannon was the other Pirate with a hit.
Both teams combined to leave 16 of 22 runners on base in scoring position, while the Pirates recorded seven of its 11 hits with runners in scoring position.
The Pirates will return to action Thursday, Apr. 5 when they play host to Houston for a three-game Conference USA series. Game times this weekend are 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. (EST) Saturday morning.