UNCG Holds Off Late ECU Rally, 6-5

GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina drew a season-high 13 walks and recorded seven hits, but left 17 runners stranded on the base Tuesday dropping a midweek tilt to UNC Greensboro, 6-5, at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.

The Pirates (8-8), who trailed 6-3 in the latter stages of the contest, rallied to score a pair of runs in the eighth pulling within one. In the ninth, ECU had the potential game-tying run on second base with two outs, but Adam Swim got Dylan Brown to send a grounder down the first base side for the final out thwarting the ECU rally.

Eric Tyler drew his third walk of the contest to start the ninth and was immediately lifted for Jonathan Holt as a pinch runner. Kirk Morgan pushed Holt into scoring position with a sac bunt down the first base line recording the first out of the stanza. Drew Reynolds followed by flying out to left setting up a show down with ECU’s hottest hitter in Zach Houchins. But UNCG (7-8) took the bat out of Houchins’ hand when he was intentionally walked, his third free pass of the contest, before Brown ended the game with a ground out.

Blair Betts (1-0) picked up his first win of the season in relief tossing 1.1 scoreless frames. Starter Tyler Long worked four strong innings giving up a run (earned) on two hits with five walks before being lifted for Caleb Henley, who tossed two-thirds of an inning allowing two runs (both earned). Brennen James had and scoreless frame before passing the ball to Swim, who recorded his first save of the year. The right-hander worked the final two frames allowing both Pirate runs in the eighth.

David Lucroy (0-3) suffered the loss giving up four runs (all earned) on seven hits with a pair of walks in three innings. Nick Durazo relieved him in the fourth tossing three innings of relief giving up a run on a fielder’s choice and a wild pitch. Ryan Williams kept the Pirates in the game scattering one hit over the final three frames with two strikeouts.

The Spartans took an early 2-0 lead in the second marking the 15th time this season that the Pirates’ opponent struck first. Nick Chapman and Jake Hall recorded consecutive singles and Julian Abreu moved them over on a sac bunt. Long singled to center plating Chapman and Zac MacAneney plated Hall on a bunt back to mound.

Walks and wild pitches led to both of UNCG’s runs in the fourth extending the Spartan lead to four, 4-0. Long and MacAneney drew consecutive walks and moved around the bases on a pair of wild pitches, one of which scored Long. MacAneney crossed home on Sean Guite’s sac fly to center.

ECU broke through in the bottom of the fourth on Morgan’s sac fly that plated Reid Love, who started the inning reaching after being hit by a pitch. Garrett Brooks walked putting runners on first and second and Joshua Lovick’s sac bunt moved them into scoring position. Tyler’s first walk of the day loaded the bases setting up Morgan’s fourth RBI of the season.

In the fifth, the Pirates pushed across two more runs pulling within one, 4-3. Houchins walked, took second on a wild pitch and landed on third on Ben Fultz’ infield single. Love reached on another infield single that plated Houchins and with two outs both executed a double steal to get into scoring position. Lovick and Tyler drew consecutive walks, which scored Fultz.

A fielder’s choice and another wild pitch accounted for UNCG’s final two runs of the game in the sixth, which extended the lead to 6-3.

Once again ECU pulled within one, 6-5, after scoring a pair of runs in the eighth. Houchins welcomed Swim to the game with a double on his first pitch offering and took third on Brown’s ground out to short. Fultz followed with a walk before Love drove in his second run of the game with a base hit to right field. A passed ball advanced Fultz to third and Love to second before Brooks’ grounder to short pushed across Fultz.

Offensively, Fultz and Love accounted for four of ECU’s seven hits, while Houchins and Reynolds both laced doubles to extend their hitting streaks to five games.

ECU will be back in action Wednesday, Mar. 12 when it travels to Wilson, N.C. to take on Atlantic Coast Conference member Wake Forest at Historic Fleming Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. (EST).