GREENVILLE, N.C. – Tulane scored a run in five of nine innings, including four in the seventh, and walked away with a 7-2 Conference USA series opening win over East Carolina Friday night at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Tulane (10-6, 3-1) got solid outings from right-handers Tyler Mapes and Kyle McKenzie, who combined for seven total strikeouts despite allowing 11 hits in the contest. Mapes recorded his third win of the year improving to 3-0 after tossing five shutout innings with a pair of strikeouts. McKenzie made his fifth appearance of the season working four innings of relief, where he allowed a pair of runs on three hits with five punch-outs for his second save of the season.
For the 16th time this season, ECU’s opponent struck first when the Green Wave took a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Garrett Deschamp and Hunter Hope hit back-to-back singles off Jeff Hoffman (0-3) to get the inning started. Jake Rogers hit into a fielders choice that put Hope out at second allowing Deschamp to move to third before Bowen Woodson hit a sac fly into right field pushing Deschamp across the plate for the game's first run.
Stephen Alemais led off the top of the third with a double into right field and Jake Willsey singled into center field before moving on second on a throwing error by ECU's Garrett Brooks. Andrew Garner brought Alemais home on a ground out to second giving Tulane a 2-0 advantage.
Hoffman, who is winless on the season, allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits in 6.1 innings with five strikeouts and two walks before turning the game over to his bullpen. Nick Durazo faced two batters allowing a run to score without recording an out and Davis Kirkpatrick tossed the final 2.2 scoreless frames.
From that moment on it was all Tulane as they scored a run in the sixth and four in the seventh extending its lead to 7-0. The Green Wave, who batted around in the stanza, put five-straight runners on base with one out using a pair of walks, consecutive singles and a hit batter. Grant Brown scored on an ECU error, Alemais crossed home on Richard Carthon’s single to left, Carthon strolled home on Deschamp’s fielder’s choice and Willsey capped the scoring on Hope’s sac fly to right.
ECU (8-10, 1-3) finally broke through in the bottom of the seventh on Drew Reynolds’ RBI groundout that plated Charlie Yorgen. Zach Houchins followed with an RBI-single to center scoring Hunter Allen from second cutting the lead to five, 7-2.
The Pirates had their chances on the night leaving nine runners on base. In the first they had the bases loaded with no outs, but continued to struggle with runners in scoring position coming up empty. Ben Fultz and Reynolds collected consecutive singles, and Houchins loaded the bases with a walk for Ian Townsend, who grounded into a 3-2 double play. Bryce Harman ended the inning flying out to left field leaving a pair of Pirates stranded on base.
In the sixth it was more of the same as ECU left the bases loaded and was retired via three strikeouts. Reynolds and Houchins laced back-to-back base hits before Townsend went down looking. Harman walked placing runners at ever base, but McKenzie got Dylan Brown and Garrett Brooks swinging to end the threat.
Offensively ECU pounded out 11 hits with Allen and Reynolds each posting three. Houchins extended his hit streak to seven games with a pair of base knocks, while Fultz, Harman and Yorgen added one.
The two teams will play a doubleheader Saturday starting at 1 p.m. (ET) due to the potential threat of inclement weather on Sunday. The second game begin approximately 45 minutes after the conclusion of game one.