GREENVILLE, N.C. – Jeff Hoffman worked seven strong innings, while Zach Houchins recorded a pair of hits and drove in two runs helping East Carolina (4-4) to a 6-3 win over St. John’s (1-8) Friday night at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.
For just the third time this season, the Pirates scored first when Drew Reynolds doubled home Bryan Bass from second for an early 1-0 lead. Bass, who kept his season average at .400 with a 1-for-3 night, reached on a single just past the diving Sean O’Hare at third and took second on Jack Reinheimer’s ground out to the right side of the field on a hit and run. Reynolds stepped to the plate with one out and sent a wind-blown fly ball down the left field line plating Bass easily from second.
Hoffman, who notched his second-straight victory, allowed three runs (one earned) on seven hits with a pair of strikeouts and improved to 2-1 on the season. Left-hander Jake Harris continued his dominate pitching out of the bullpen tossing a scoreless eighth before passing the ball to Drew Reynolds, who recorded his third save with a scoreless ninth.
James Lomangino (0-2) was tagged with the loss surrendering all six runs on eight hits with three walks and three strikeouts in 4.2 frames. Lefty Ryan Horstman gave up two hits and punched out four in 3.1 innings in relief for the Red Storm.
Leading 1-0 in the bottom of the second, ECU added a pair of runs in the second extending its lead to 3-0. Philip Clark walked to start the frame and swiped the first of his two bases moving into scoring position. Houchins followed with an RBI single up the middle and moved over to second on the centerfielders throw to the plate. Garrett Brooks laid down a sac bunt back to the pitcher pushing Houchins over to third and Travis Watkins drove in the Pirates third run on another single, this time up the middle for the second run of the stanza.
St. John’s pulled within two, 3-2, in the top of the third thanks to a pair of hits and an ECU error. Pat Talbut and Ty Blankmeyer laced back-to-back singles and Martin Kelly reached on fielding error by Houchins at the hot corner, which loaded the bases with no outs. The Red Storm scored their first run on a Hoffman wild pitch and two batters later Danny Bethea sent a fly ball to Brooks in center scoring Blankmeyer.
Clark’s RBI single to right field extended ECU’s lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the third. Chase McDonald drew an opening frame walk and took second on Dylan Brown’s grounder to second. Clark, who reached base twice in the contest, recorded his first hit of the year with the RBI base knock that plated McDonald.
Alex Caruso’s ground out in the fifth cut the Pirates’ lead to one, 4-3. Blankmeyer reached on a Reinheimer fielding error and took third on Kelly’s double down the left field line before Blankmeyer crossed home on Caruso’s grounder to short.
Three doubles in the bottom half of the sixth pushed ECU’s lead to 6-3. McDonald laced a double down the right field line and came around to score on Brown’s two-base hit with one out to left center. After Lomangino got Clark swinging for the second out of the stanza, Houchins followed with a double to left center scoring Brown easily from second base.
All nine starters for ECU recorded a hit with Houchins picking up his first multi-hit game of the season. The Pirates out-hit the Red Storm 10-7 on the night marking the fifth time this season they have reached double-digits.
The Pirates and Red Storm will play the second game of the three-game series at 2 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, Mar. 2.