Pirates Fall To Rams In Midweek Clash, 8-4

GREENVILLE, N.C. – Cody Acker and Bill Cullen combined to drive in six runs and Virginia Commonwealth took advantage of five East Carolina errors to claim an 8-4 win Wednesday night at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium. With the win the Rams improve to 17-3 on the season, while the Pirates fall to 10-11.

The big blow came in the fourth inning when Cullen belted his second home run of the season, a three-run shot, putting the Rams ahead for good 3-2. Trailing 2-0, Joey Cujas sent a one-out grounder to Charlie Yorgen at second, who misplayed the ball and then through wide of first allowing Cujas to move over to third. Vimael Machin followed with a walk then stole second to move into scoring position before both runners strolled home on Cullen’s shot over the right field wall.

Daniel Concepcion (3-1) notched his second win of the year against the Pirates allowing four runs (all earned) on five hits with five walks and seven strikeouts. Matt Lees picked up his third save of the season (16th career) tossing three scoreless frames.

Tyler Bolton (0-2) suffered the loss surrendering six runs (two earned) on four hits in 4.1 innings of work before passing the ball to Brett Mabry in the fifth stanza. Mabry tossed 3.2 perfect innings with a strikeout, while Luke Bolka (0.1 IP, 2 UERs) and Drew Reynolds (0.2 IP) closed out the final frame.

Reynolds staked the Pirates to an early 1-0 lead in the first when he belted his first home run of the season (fourth career) sending a shot over the right field wall.

In the second, ECU extended its lead on Ben Fultz’ RBI base hit that scored Yorgen for a 2-0 advantage. Yorgen doubled down the right field line with one out and took third on Hunter Allen’s sac bunt just before sprinting home on Fultz’ infield single to second.

The Rams continued to score platting three runs in the top of the fifth for a 6-2 lead. Matt Davis (single) and Landon Prentiss (double) led off with consecutive hits putting runners on second and third. Davis sprinted home on a passed ball and Prentiss came around to score when Acker reached on the fourth Pirate error of the night. The final run of the frame came when Acker crossed home as Machin reached on a fielder’s choice.

A pair of pinch-hit RBIs by Dylan Brown and Luke Lowery pulled the Pirates within in two, 6-4 in the sixth. After Bryce Harman walked with one out, he darted home on Brown’s extra-base hit down the right field line. Eric Tyler followed with a single through the right side and Lowery’s ground out to first allowed Brown to touch home.

VCU added two more runs in the top of the ninth on a two-RBI double by Acker down the right field line capping the game at 8-4.

ECU had a chance to score in the bottom of the frame when Harman stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. Ben Fultz reached on an error with one out but was forced out at second on Reynolds fielder’s choice. Zach Houchins and Ian Townsend followed with consecutive singles to left field before Harman ended the contest striking out.

Nine different Pirates collected hits on the night with Fultz and Yorgen extending their hit streaks to four games each. ECU’s defense committed a season-high five errors, which led to six unearned runs.

The Pirates will be back in action this weekend (March 21-23) when they travel west for a three-game Conference USA series with Charlotte at Tom and Lib Phillips Field. First pitch of the weekend is slated for 6 p.m. (ET) on Friday, followed by a 2 p.m. tilt Saturday and a 1 p.m. series finale.