GREENVILLE, N.C. – Junior Jeff Hoffman struck out a career-high 16 batters lifting East Carolina to 1-0 win over Middle Tennessee Thursday night in Conference USA action at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium. With the win the Pirates improve to 23-15 overall and 10-6 in league play, while the Blue Raiders drop to 18-20 and 8-8.
Hoffman, who evened his record at 3-3 on the season, scattered three hits over eight scoreless frames allowing one walk. To go along with his C-USA best 16 strikeouts, Hoffman recorded four fly ball outs and four grounds outs, while retiring 10 of the final 11 batters he faced.
The right-hander was impressive from the outset setting down the side in order in the first inning as well as the fourth, sixth and seventh stanzas. In the second inning he recorded three strikeouts and two innings later (fourth) accomplished the feat once again.
In all, Hoffman struck out at least one hitter in all eight innings and multiple batters in six innings. His 16 total strikeouts are the most by a C-USA pitcher this season, is tied for fifth all-time in school history, and is the most since Ayden Butler fanned 17 against St. Augustine in 1992.
Ian Townsend plated the games only run in the fifth inning on a sac fly to right field that gave ECU a 1-0 advantage. Dylan Brown, who extended his current hit streak to seven games in the third, started the frame with a walk before moving to third on Drew Reynolds base hit through the right side. Townsend posted his sixth game-winning RBI (third in last six games) when he sent a line drive to right field scoring Brown.
Senior Ryan Williams logged his fourth save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning. The right-hander allowed a pair of singles and a walk to go with one strikeout.
Zac Curtis (5-2), who was equally impressive on the mound for Middle Tennessee, suffered the loss despite tossing his third complete game of the season with six strikeouts. The senior lefty retired the side three times including 11 of the final 12 batters he faced issuing only a walk to Townsend in the eighth.
The Blue Raiders, who had just two runners reach scoring position through eight innings, made the game interesting in the ninth. Trent Miller reached on an infield single and took second on Jake Ingold’s walk with two outs. Michael Adkins stepped to the plate delivering what looked like the game-tying run with his shot to right field, but Townsend threw a bullet towards home where Eric Tyler was able to make the tag on Miller at the plate ending the contest.
Seven different Pirates posted hits on the night with Townsend (10 games) and Reynolds (6) both joining Brown in extending their hit streaks.
The two teams will return to the diamond Friday afternoon for a doubleheader that starts at 2 p.m. (ET). Senior Brett Mabry is scheduled to throw game one for the Pirates, while Tyler Bolton is slated for the nightcap.