GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina’s Jeff Hoffman and Ryan Williams combined for 18 strikeouts and Garrett Brooks scored the game-winning run in the 10th inning, lifting the Pirates to a 2-1 extra inning win over Western Kentucky in game two of the 11th Annual Keith LeClair Classic.
With the scored knotted at one-all in the 10th and two outs, Brooks drew a walk on four straight pitches and moved over to third on senior Drew Reynolds single through the right side. Senior Zach Houchins stepped to the plate and sent a grounder to WKU (6-3) second baseman Scott Wilcox, who muffed the ball allowing Brooks to score easily from third halting ECU’s (4-5) four-game loosing skid.
Williams (3-0), who was awarded the honorary No. 23 jersey wore by former Pirate skipper Keith LeClair, picked up another win out of the bullpen tossing two scoreless innings of relief where he struck out four of the six batters he faced. But the night belonged to Hoffman, who fanned a career-high and LeClair Classic record 14 batters getting nine of those swinging. The right-hander from Latham, N.Y. scattered five hits over eight innings allowing a run (unearned) while walking one in his second no decision of the season.
Hoffman, who came within one strikeout of tying Zach Wood’s Clark-LeClair Stadium record, punched out multiple batters in five of eight stanzas he worked including the side in the first and fourth, while also striking out at least one in seven of eight innings. He registered four ground ball and five fly ball outs to go along with one double play.
Sam Higgs (1-1) suffered the loss giving up the run in the 10th (unearned) on one hit in 2.2 innings. Starter Justin Hageman surrendered a run (earned) on three hits with two punch-outs and six walks in six innings, while Brennan Pearson tossed a perfect seventh recording a pair of strikeouts.
The Hilltoppers broke a scoreless tie in the top of the sixth when Cody Wofford scored on Ryan Church’s RBI single for a 1-0 advantage. Wofford doubled to left field with one out and two batters later came chugging home on Church’s single through the right side.
Freshman Bryce Harman tied the game at one-all in the seventh with an RBI double to left field that plated senior Ben Fultz, who led off the frame with a walk just before Harman’s first collegiate RBI.
The Pirates return to action on Saturday, Mar. 1 when they play host to Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Pittsburgh at 3 p.m. (EST).