Francisco leads No. 13 ECU to crucial series win over No. 22 Tulane
GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU) – Thomas Francisco hit two a pair of home runs and drove in three helping No. 13 East Carolina to a 9-1 series win over No. 22 Tulane Sunday afternoon at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium in American Athletic Conference play.
With the win, the Pirates improve to 33-10 overall and 15-5 in league action while the Green Wave dropped to 25-17 and 14-5.
In a battle of the top two teams in The American, the Pirates used the long ball and got timely pitching to retake the top spot in the league standings by a half game. ECU’s offense pounded out nine hits and used nine pitchers to secure its eighth weekend series of win of the season and close out with a 27-4 home record.
ECU wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard scoring in the first inning for a 1-0 lead. Connor Norby walked to start the frame extending his on-base streak to 50 games. After swiping his 12th base of the season and moving to third on a Bennett Lee throwing error, Francisco singled through the left side for the game’s first run and the Pirates never looked back.
Carson Whisenhunt (5-0) earned the win in his first start since April 9th working three scoreless frames on a predetermined pitch count. The lefty gave up one hit, walked one and struck out three on the afternoon. The Pirates turned to its bullpen in the fourth and closed the day using seven arms in relief. They got pitching efforts from A.J. Wilson (0.1 IP, 1 R), Danny Beal (0.0 IP), Josh Grosz (0.2 IP, 1 K), Nick Logusch (0.2 IP, 1 BB), Carter Spivey (2.1 IP, 2 Ks), Cam Colmore (1.2 IP) and Matt Bridges (0.1 IP).
Tyler Hoffman (4-2) suffered the loss for Tulane giving up six runs (five earned) on six hits with a pair of walks and four punch outs in 4.2 innings. Zach Devito tosses the final 3.1 innings allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits with three free passes and one strikeout.
Francisco’s ninth home run of the season, a solo blast to right-center, pushed the Pirates lead to 2-0 in the third inning.
Tulane cut the Pirates lead in half, 2-1, in the fourth inning on Chase Engelhard’s RBI base hit. Lee singled to right field with one out and took second on Frankie Niemann’s walk before coming around to score on Engelhard’s shot through the left side.
ECU responded with a run in the home half of the forth pushing its lead back to two, 3-1. Zach Agnos drew a one-out walk and moved into scoring position on Lane Hoover’s ground out. Seth Caddell followed with a single back up the middle plating Agnos.
Francisco and Alec Makarewicz’ each hit home runs to highlight the Pirates three-run fifth frame added to their lead, 6-1. Francisco belted his second of the day, 10th of the season, with a blast to right field. After Josh Moylan’s base hit through the left side, Makarewicz took a 3-1 offering from Devito over the right field walk for his sixth of the season.
The Pirates added a run in the seventh (Moylan RBI single) and two in the eighth which came on a passed ball (Caddell scoring) and Agnos’ solo home run that capped the scoring at 9-1.
Francisco went 3-for-5 with three home runs, Moylan was 2-for-4 with an RBI and Makarewicz was one-for-3 with a pair of RBI. Agnos hit his sixth home run of the season and with his walk in the fourth he extended his on-base streak to 16 games.
ECU returns to action on Friday, May 14 when it travels to Cincinnati for a four-game series. First pitch of the doubleheader is scheduled for 1 p.m. (ET) and will be streamed on ESPN+.
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