Minicozzi lifts Pirates past Charlotte
RYAN ROCKWELL Sports Writer
After a five RBI-game Saturday, East Carolina University freshman Mark Minicozzi hit the game-winning single on Sunday in the bottom of the ninth in an 8-7 nail-biter over Charlotte.
Minicozzi was a leader Saturday in the Pirates' 15-4 win over the 49ers. The third baseman was 2-for-3, with a grand slam. ECU lost 5-2 in game one of the three-game set Friday, and Minicozzi's ninth-inning single and third-inning homer spoiled the series for Charlotte (7-11, 1-4 Conference USA).
ECU (16-7, 4-2 C-USA) fought back from a two-run deficit in the eighth. Down 7-5, Darryl Lawhorn was hit by a pitch and Jake Smith drew a walk. With two outs and runners at second and third, catcher John Poppert slapped a single into center, scoring both runners.
In the ninth, Ryan Jones got aboard with one out on a single to right. A steal and a wild pitch moved him all the way to third. Then, with two outs, Charlotte chose to intentionally walk Lawhorn and the bases became loaded as pinch-hitter Jason Tourangeau drew a walk.
Minicozzi stepped in and got just enough of a low pitch by Erik Walker to get over second baseman George Sandel's head and end the game. Justin Brown gave up the single to Jones and received the loss.
For the second straight day the Pirate bats were hot early on. ECU took a 5-1 lead after three innings on eight hits, scoring one in the first and two in the second and third each.
Unfortunately for ECU, the starting pitcher did not make it out of the early innings for the second day in a row. Saturday, Ashley Capps pitched just 2.1 inning, while Sunday's starter, Scott Greene, could only go 3.2 innings, giving up four runs.
Glenn Tucker relieved Greene and struggled through the fifth, giving up two runs on a homer by Randall Poplin with Sandel aboard.
Trailing 6-5, Tucker breezed through the sixth and seventh without allowing a hit. However, he would not make it through the eighth, hitting a batter, making a throwing error to first, and giving up an RBI single to Adam Willard.
Tucker was pulled for Greg Bunn, who retired the next three batters, striking out two of them. Bunn struck out two more 49ers in the ninth.
The Pirates' bats did the rest.
Confidence and aggressiveness at the plate has been a concern for Pirate coach Randy Mazey this season. However 26 hits and 23 runs in two days has the team feeling good about itself.
Eight of the nine starters got hits on Sunday, as the team begins to show more offense at the top and bottom of the lineup.
ECU remains at home for a Tuesday matchup with Campbell before traveling to UNC-Wilmington to play the Seahawks on Wednesday. Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m.
Charlotte 001 320 010 -- 7 10 1
East Carolina 122 000 021 -- 8 12 1
WP: Greg Bunn (2-1). LP: Justin Brown.
C -- George Sandel 2-4 (RBI), Randall Poplin 1-5 (HR, 2RBIs), Jamie Rusco (double), Brad Lamm 1-4, Adam Willard 3-4 (2 RBIs), Adam Floyd 2-4 (RBI); ECU -- Ryan Jones 2-5, Ryan Norwood 1-5, Darryl Lawhorn 2-3 (double, RBI), Jake Smith 1-3, Mark Minicozzi 2-5 (HR, 2RBIs), John Poppert 1-4 (2RBIs), Mike DeJesus 2-3 (double), Luke Cherry 1-3.