GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina scored four two-out runs in the seventh inning and held off a late rally from Monmouth taking game two, 7-6, and evening the weekend series Saturday afternoon at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium. With the win the Pirates improve to 8-5, while the Hawks drop to 3-5.
Trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh, ECU pushed across four runs on two hits and a pair of Monmouth miscues to take a 7-4 advantage. With two outs, Bryan Bass reached on an error, Jack Reinheimer followed with a bunt single and Jay Cannon loaded the bases with an infield single. Hawks reliever T.J. Hunt walked Chase McDonald scoring Bass knotting the game at four.
Reinheimer scored the go-ahead run on a Hunt wild pitch, which also moved Cannon and McDonald up 90 feet. Zach Houchins followed by reaching on a fielding error by the shortstop (Jon Guida) that scored both Cannon and McDonald extending ECU’s lead to 7-4.
Ryan Williams (3-0) picked up the win working into the eighth inning (7.1 IP) where he allowed six runs (five earned) on 11 hits with three strikeouts. The right-hander was cruising through the first six frames retiring 16 of 21 batters allowing just three hits before surrendering four runs in the seventh. Drew Reynolds worked the final 1.2 innings notching his fifth save of the season where he allowed one hits with two strikeouts.
Dan Smith (0-2) was saddled with the loss after being touched for six runs (three earned) on eight hits with a pair of walks and one strikeout in 6.1 innings. Hunt allowed one run in one-third of a frame and Neil Harm tossed a scoreless eighth.
Through the first four stanzas, both pitchers allowed just three runners to reach base until ECU pushed across the first runs of the contest thanks to Chris Gosik’s three-run blast, his first since Mar. 4, 2011. Dylan Brown got things going with an infield single to second and Luke Lowery followed with a single through the right side. After Smith retired Philip Clark via strikeout on a bunt attempt, Gosik lifted a 1-1 offering to left field staking the Pirates to a 3-0 lead.
In the top of the seventh, Monmouth scored four runs on five hits and an error to take a 4-3 lead. Chris Perret started the stanza with a single through the right side and ended up on third when Guida reached on a fielder’s choice that resulted in an errant throw by Bass at second trying to turn a double play. Perret scored on a wild pitch, which also moved Guida to third base. Craig Sweeney followed with an infield single down the third base line, where Houchins made a diving stab behind the bag, but Guida was able to score reducing ECU’s lead to 4-2. Sweeney took second on Owen Stewart’s sac bunt and back-to-back singles by Dan Shea and Casey Saverio loaded the bases for Steve Wilgus, who doubled to right field pushing across Sweeney and Shea for a one-run advantage.
After ECU took a 7-4 lead in the bottom half of the seventh, Monmouth scored twice in the top of the eighth pulling within one, 7-6. Jake Gronsky singled to left field and Perret reached on an infield single to third, where Houchins bare-handed the ball and fired wide of McDonald at first, putting runners on second and third with no outs. Williams got Guida to go down swinging for the first out and Sweeny followed with his third hit of the day, this time a two-RBI single up the middle.
Reynolds, who relieved Williams with one out in the eighth and Sweeney standing on second, struck out Stewart before Shea singled to right field putting runners on the corners with two outs. Saverio followed with a walk to load the bases and Reynolds got Wilgus to fly out to right field ending the Hawks rally.
Brown and Reinheimer, who extended his hit streak to eight games, each had two hits for the Pirates. Seven different Pirates scored runs on the afternoon, while four different players drew walks. Shea joined Sweeney with three hits for the Hawks, while Sweeney (three) and Wilgus (two) had multiple RBI.
The Pirates will go for the series win on Sunday, Mar.10 when the two team return to the diamond. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. (ET).