12th Ranked ECU Baseball takes game one against Liberty

#12 ECU 7, Liberty 2
Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 10:08 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU Athletics) – No. 12 East Carolina extended its winning streak to four Friday night, downing Liberty 7-2 in the teams’ series opener at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

The Pirates (10-3) drew 12 walks and rapped out nine hits, scoring five runs in the later innings to drop the Flames to 7-6 overall.

Carter Cunningham and Justin Wilcoxen posted two-hit performances while Wilcoxen and Josh Moylan drove in a pair of runs apiece. Cunningham went yard for the first time this season as ECU collected five extra-base hits against a Liberty pitching staff that entered the weekend with a 3.38 ERA and .220 opposing batting average. Gray Betts racked up three hits to pace the visiting club.

Trey Yesavage (2-0) turned in yet another quality start in picking up his second win of the season, tossing six innings and allowing two runs on six hits with a walk and six strikeouts. Wyatt Lunsford-Shenkman turned in his second three-inning scoreless relief appearance of the week, tallying his first career save by limiting the Flames to just four hits and striking out one.

Liberty struck first in the top of the second via consecutive two-out doubles by Jake Lazzaro and Jaylen Guy. ECU attempted an immediate answer in the home half when Wilcoxen dropped a leadoff single into center and Joey Berini drew a walk, but Flames starter Garrett Horn recovered with three-straight strikeouts to escape the jam.

The Pirates broke onto the board in the bottom of the third. Luke Nowak worked a leadoff walk before Jacob Jenkins-Cowart lined an 0-2 offering off the wall in right center for a double to put a pair of East Carolina runners in scoring position. Moylan then flied out to right, allowing Nowak to score and tie things at one.

Cunningham put ECU ahead in the fourth, launching one over the wall to the right of the scoreboard to make it 2-1. Jacob Starling nearly extended the Pirate lead with two away, pounding a fly ball to left center, but Guy made a nice running grab to end the frame.

Guy would start the fifth inning by lacing a double to left field and eventually scored on a Betts sac fly, but East Carolina once again had the response in the sixth. Cunningham began the spurt by singling through the right side and moved up to second on a sac bunt. Nowak and Starling stayed patient, walking on full counts to load the bags. Jenkins-Cowart and Moylan drew two more free passes to propel the Pirates ahead 4-2 while a Wilcoxen sac fly left the Purple and Gold with a 5-2 advantage heading to the seventh.

Nowak and Wilcoxen capped the contest’s scoring in the seventh and eighth frames via a pair RBI doubles before Shenkman worked around a two-out single in the ninth to finish the job.