Pirates pound 49ers
RYAN ROCKWELL, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE -- A grand slam by East Carolina freshman Mark Minicozzi capped a 15-4 shellacking of Charlotte Saturday in Conference USA baseball action. Minicozzi was one of five Pirates to have multiple hits on Saturday.
The 49ers (7-10, 1-3) took the opening game 5-2 on Friday, as the Pirates characteristically struggled to generate offense.
While the Pirate bats were catching fire, regular starter Will Brinson, a senior, came on in relief and gave up just two runs on four hits in 6.2 innings. Brinson replaced starter Ashley Capps, who gave up two runs on six hits in just 2.1 innings.
Capps gave up one run on three hits in the first, but a three-run, five-hit bottom half of the inning by the Pirates gave them a lead they would not relinquish.
Leadoff man Jamie Paige legged out and infield single and then scored on an RBI single by Jake Smith after Darryl Lawhorn moved him over with a single. Minicozzi and John Poppert got back-to-back singles straight up the middle to continue to rally.
Paige was outstanding on the day, going 3-for-4 at the plate with a RBI and four runs.
The Pirates gave up one in the third but answered the bell again with two in the bottom half. Minicozzi and Lawhorn drew walks, leading to a pitching change and a two-run double by Poppert to take a 5-2 lead. ECU batters drew eight walks in addition to 14 hits.
The 49ers' Brad Erwin got a leadoff homer in the fourth to momentarily close the gap. But once again the Pirates were ready to swing their swords, scoring two runs on four hits in the bottom half.
Ryan Jones' RBI single drove in Paige and then Lawhorn would drive him in two batters later. Lawhorn was 2-for-3 at the plate. Jake Smith also singled in the inning and was 2-for-3 on the day.
ECU went up 10-3 in the fifth, plating three more runs. Poppert (2-for-4 with three RBIs) and Luke Cherry were aboard with one out for Paige, who dropped an RBI single into right. Then with two outs, Ryan Norwood lifted a double to the fence in center, scoring Cherry and Paige.
Charlotte made the mistake of scoring in the top of the seventh and ECU responded with five runs on just one hit in the bottom half.
Three walks, a hit batsman and a balk set the table for Minicozzi's base-clearing blast to right. The rookie third baseman was 2-for-3 with five RBI on the day.
The rubber game of the series is today at 1 p.m. at Harrington Field.
Charlotte 101 100 100 -- 4 10 1
East Carolina 302 230 50x -- 15 14 2
WP: Will Brinson 1-0. LP: Julian Sides.
C -- Thomas Bowker 1-5, George Sandel 3-4 (RBI), Brian Scafe 1-4 (double), Randall Poplin 2-4 (2 RBIs), Brad Lamm 2-4, Brad Erwin 1-4 (HR), Adam Willard 1-2; E -- Jamie Paige 3-4 (RBI, 4 runs), Ryan Jones 1-5 (RBI), Ryan Norwood 1-4 (2RBIs), Darryl Lawhorn 2-3 (RBI), Jake Smit 2-3 (RBI), Mark Minicozzi 2-3 (5RBIs), John Poppert 2-4 (double, 3 RBIs), Luke Cherry 1-4.