GREENVILLE, N.C. – Memphis scored five unanswered runs – all in the final three frames – and held off a late East Carolina rally to take game one of the three game Conference USA series 6-5 Friday night at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium. With the win the Tigers improve to 26-17 overall and 9-7 in league play, while the Pirates drop to 21-21 and 6-7.
Trailing 6-3 in the ninth inning, the Pirates scratched across a pair of two-out runs pulling within one before Jay Cannon flied out to right field with runners on the corners to end the game and snap ECU’s four-game win streak. Drew Reynolds walked with two outs and took second when Zach Houchins reached on a fielding error by Memphis’ first baseman. Chase McDonald followed with a single through the left side loading the bases for Tuesday night’s hero, Ben Fultz. After Philip Clark entered the game as a pinch runner for McDonald at first, Fultz singled to right field scoring both Reynolds and Houchins.
Clayton Gant (2-3) picked up the win in relief tossing 3.1 scoreless frames. Jonathan Van Eaton notched his ninth save working the ninth allowing a pair of runs (both earned) on two hits. Starter Erik Schoenrock lasted 4.2 innings surrendering all three Pirate runs on nine hits while striking out five.
Jeff Hoffman (4-5) took the loss allowing five runs (four earned) on 12 hits with seven strikeouts in 8.1 innings. Jake Harris worked a third of an inning giving up a run before Joseph Hughes recorded the final out in the ninth.
Houchins staked ECU to an early 1-0 lead in the first frame. With two outs, Reynolds doubled off the bag at first and came around to score on Houchins team-leading 12th double of the season down the left field line.
Four consecutive two out hits in the fifth extended ECU’s lead to 3-0. Jack Reinheimer and Reynolds recorded back-to-back infield base hits before Houchins and McDonald laced RBI singles to left field.
Bryce Beeler knotted the game at three in the seventh on his first homer of the season, a three-run shot to left field. Keaton Aldridge started the inning with a single to center and Jake Little followed with a base hit through the left side. After Carter White grounded out to second and Colton Simbeck struck out swinging, Beeler lifted a first pitch offering from Hoffman over the wall in left field just out of reach from Fultz.
With the game tied at three-all in the seventh, Tucker Tubbs scored the go-ahead run on Drew Griffin’s double putting the Tigers up 4-3. Tubbs singled to left center with one out and came around to score on Griffin’s base hit also to left center, where he advanced to third on an error by Dylan Brown.
Memphis added a pair of runs in the top of the ninth extending its lead to 6-3. Austin Hatfield singled to center and came around to score on a pair of ECU errors. Sam King tried to pick Hatfield off at first throwing the ball on the right side of the bag allowing him to reach third, but on the same play Bryan Bass one-hopped his throw to Houchins at third allowing him to score. Ethan Gross reached when he was hit by a Harris pitch, took second on a balk and came around to score on Tubbs fourth hit of the night, a single to left field.
The Pirates, who scored all their runs with two outs, recorded 12 hits on the night with Houchins and McDonald each recording three. Reynolds extended his hit streak to six games with a 2-for-4 performance and Fultz drove in multiple runs for the second-straight game.
Tubbs lead all batters with four hits, while Beeler and Little added a pair of base knocks and combined for eight of the Tigers 13 hits.
ECU will look to even the series and get back to .500 in league play when they take the field at 2 p.m. (ET) against Memphis.