Kuchmaner's gem leads No. 14 past No. 9 Ole Miss, 3-2
Jake Kuchmaner nearly made history Wednesday afternoon coming one out away from tossing the 11th no-hitter in program history as No. 14 ECU defeated No. 9 Ole Miss 3-2 inside Oxford-University Stadium at Swayze Field. With the win, the Pirates improved to 9-5 on the year while the Rebels dropped to 9-3.
Kuchmaner (1-0), who registered a career-high nine strikeouts, allowed just two base runners through eight frames (hit by pitch, strikeout-wild pitch) going to the ninth inning with the Pirates leading 3-0. The lefty fanned the first two batters he faced in the ninth but issued a free pass to Michael Fitzsimmons and then surrendered a hit to Thomas Dillard on a 1-0 count for the first base knock of the day for the Rebels.
ECU went to its bullpen bringing in Alec Burleson, who allowed a two-run single to Tyler Kennan which made it a one run ball game, 3-2. With runners on first and second, a Burleson wild pitch moved the both runners into scoring position before the Rebels loaded the bases when Cole Zabowski drew a free pass. Sam Lanier entered the contest with the bases juiced and thwarted the rally getting Cooper Johnson to pop out to foul territory in right field on an 0-2 count.
The Pirates jumped out to an early 3-0 lead behind Spencer Brickhouse’s second homer of the season, a three-run shot, in the fourth frame. Bryant Packard doubled to start the stanza and Brady Lloyd singled to center setting up Brickhouse’s shot down the right field line, his second career homer in Oxford-University Stadium.
Doug Nikhazy (1-1) took the loss despite allowing the three runs on four hits with a career-best seven punch outs. The duo of Austin Miller and Connor Green combined for five strikeouts and surrendered just one hit over four scoreless frames of relief.
Kuchmaner retired the first 13 batters he faced before hitting Ryan Olenek with one out in the fifth. He would get out of the frame unscathed getting a strikeout and a ground out to keep the no-hit bid in order. In the sixth, he got two quick outs before striking out Grae Kessinger, but on the play Kessinger reached on a wild pitch. Kuchmaner got Jacob Adams to fly out to shallow right field to end the frame. In all, Kuchmaner had six clean frames and punched out at least one batter six innings and multiple three times.
ECU will return home on Friday, March 8 when it plays host to Marist at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium. First pitch of the three-game series is set for 6:30 p.m. (ET).