Long Ball Lifts Pirates To 11-4 Win Over Phoenix

ELON, N.C. – Chase McDonald belted two of East Carolina’s four home runs and Ryan Williams tossed 4.1 perfect innings of relief with seven strikeouts lifting the Pirates to an 11-4 victory over Elon Wednesday afternoon at Latham Park. With the win the Pirates improve to 12-14, while the Phoenix drops to 14-11.

Trailing 4-2 going to the fifth, ECU scored two of its nine unanswered runs when Jay Cannon knotted the game at four with a two-run shot to left field. Jack Reinheimer, who walked for the third time in the game, stole second and took third on Jacob Baker’s wild pitch before strolling home on Cannon’s third blast of the season.

From that point on it was all ECU as they scored three in the sixth, one in the seventh and three more in the ninth snapping its six-game losing streak.

Williams (5-1) was sensational in his second relief appearance of the season. The right-handed junior struck out seven of the 13 batters he faced, which included two in the sixth, all three (in order) in the seventh and two more in the eighth. Freshman Nick Durazo made his third start of the season working 4.2 innings allowing four runs (all earned) on four hits with a walk and two strikeouts in the no-decision.

Tyler Manez (0-2) suffered the loss in relief giving up three runs (two earned) on three hits with a walk and a punch out in 1.1 innings. Starter Jacob Baker punched out a career-best seven batters, but was touched for four runs (all earned) on four hits with three walks in 4.1 innings. Elon also used a trio of pitchers in John Antonelli (1.0 IP, 1 R, 1 ER), Jordan Darnell (1.1 IP, 0 R) and Brandon Kacer (1.0 IP, 3 R, 1 ER) over the final 3.1 innings.

A pair of solo home runs to left field from McDonald and Bryan Bass staked ECU to an early 2-0 lead. McDonald hit the first of his two round trippers on the day to start the inning and two batters later Bass poked his first career homer down the left field line.

Blaine Bower’s three-run homer to left field gave Elon a 4-2 lead in the bottom half of second inning. Ryan Kinsella doubled down the right field line to start the frame and took third on Niko Fraser’s single to left field, loading the bases for the Phoenix. Will Leathers’ sac fly to center scored Kinsella for Elon’s first run before Bower’s blast cleared the bases for a two-run advantage.

Zach Houchins pinch-hit two RBI double broke a four-all tie highlighting a three-run sixth frame for the Pirates, 7-4. Luke Lowery reached on an infield single to second and Bass walked putting runners on first and second with one out for Houchins, who stroked his eighth extra base hit of the season. Houchins would come around to score the third run of the stanza when Reinheimer reached on a bunt single to Manez at the mound, who threw wide of first easily allowing Houchins to touch home.

ECU continued to put runs on the board when Lowery singled off the wall in left field scoring Ben Fultz to extend the lead at 8-4 in the seventh. Fultz walked on four-straight pitches then moved into scoring position after swiping his third base of the year. Drew Reynolds moved him over to third on a ground out to short before scoring on Lowery’s long single.

McDonald’s 12th career homer and an RBI single by Houchins highlighted a three-run ninth by the Pirates. After McDonald’s towering blast to straightaway center field, Reynolds followed with a single up the middle and took second on a Kacer wild pitch. With two outs, Bass reached first for the second time on an error, this time by Kinsella landing on third after Reynolds came around to score. Houchins second hit of the day scooted through the left side of the diamond allowing Bass to cross home for the final time and cap the scoring at 11-4.

ECU out hit Elon 12 to four on the afternoon with Cannon, Houchins, Lowery and McDonald all posting multi-hit games. Cannon finished the contest going 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI and one run scored. Reinheimer got on base four times drawing three walks and reaching on a bunt single.

The Pirates will return to action on Friday, Mar. 29 when they play host to N.C. Central at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium with a 6 p.m. (ET) first pitch scheduled.