TAMPA, Fla. (ECU) — No. 13 ECU used a combination of small ball and long ball Saturday night in a 13-7 win over USF in American Athletic Conference action at USF Baseball Stadium. With the win, the Pirates improve to 20-6 overall (5-0 in AAC), they extended their win streak to eight games and claimed their first series win over the Bulls (12-13, 1-4) since 2005.
Trailing 4-3 going to the sixth inning, the Pirates broke out the bats scoring six runs on three hits taking a 9-4 lead. Spencer Brickhouse led off the frame with a single up the middle and moved to second on Alec Burleson’s ground out to third. Turner Brown followed with a shot right field that plated Brickhouse knotting the game at four-all. With Brown on second, Thomas Francisco was hit by a pitch and two batters later, Jake Washer walked loading the bases. Ryder Giles stepped to the plate and was hit by pitch on a full count that pushed across Brown giving the Pirates a one-run lead, 5-4. On the next pitch by starter Alec Wisely, Bryant Packard hit a moon shot to right field clearing the bases for a grand slam and giving the Pirates a five-run advantage, 9-4.
Tyler Smith (3-0) earned the win allowing four runs (all earned) on eight hits with three walks and four strikeouts in eight innings of work. Zach Barnes surrendered one run (earned) in two innings with three strikeouts, while Burleson gave up two runs (both earned) with a pair of punch outs in one inning of relief. Evan Voliva tossed a scoreless ninth recording one strikeout.
Wisley (2-3) suffered the loss surrendering a career-high nine runs (all earned) on nine hits with a walk and four strikeouts in six innings. Logan Lyle was touched for four runs (two earned) on five hits with a pair of walks and punch outs in three frames.
Burleson gave ECU an early 1-0 lead in the first inning with his RBI single through the right side that plated Hoover from second after he singled with one out and moved to second on Brickhouse’s ground out. But USF tied the game at one-all in the home half of the stanza on Austin Bodrato’s RBI base hit through the right-side scoring Jordan Santos.
Solo blasts by Burleson (third of the year) and Francisco (fourth) in the fourth inning gave the Pirates a 3-1 lead.
The Bulls took their first lead of the weekend in the fifth pushing across three runs for a 4-3 advantage. Bodrato plated the first run (Kyle Phillips) with an RBI single and Brandon Schrepf’s two-RBI double scored Joe Genord and Bordrato.
ECU tacked on a run in the seventh on Brickhouse’s solo homer to right field, his sixth of the season, while USF responded with a run in the home half of the frame on Jake Sullivan’s single up the middle that plated Phillips.
Three doubles in the eighth pulled the Bulls within three, 10-7. Santos’ two-base hit scored Nick Gonzalez, while Genord’s double pushed across Santos.
But ECU put the game out of reach plating three runs on squeeze bunts in the ninth and capping the scoring at 13-7. Brady Lloyd’s fielder’s choice scored Burleson. Washer followed with another bunt that pushed across Nick Barber and Giles’ bunt single scored Lloyd.
Despite being out-hit on the night, ECU registered 14 base knocks getting three from Burleson and two each from Brickhouse, Brown, Giles and Packard. In all, seven of the Pirates nine starters had a hit in the contest. Packard drove in four, while Burleson and Giles both had two RBI. The Pirates improved to 14-0 on the year when tallying double-digit hits.
Five Bulls registered multiple hits on the night with Bodrato, Phillips and Sullivan leading the way with three each. Gonzalez and Santos collected a pair of base knocks, while Bodrato and Schrepf each plated two runs.
ECU will look to complete the weekend sweep on Sunday, March 31. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. (ET).