Pirates ‘walk-off’ with win over Penguins|Younger delivers game-winning hit for East Carolina

Published 3:02 am Sunday, February 20, 2011

By By BRIAN HAINES, Brian@wdnweb.com, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE — Timothy Younger certainly knows how to make a good impression. Playing in only his second game with East Carolina, Younger, a JUCO transfer from St. Petersburg College, delivered his first walk-off hit of his college career on Saturday to lift the Pirates to a 1-0 victory over Youngstown State.
Locked in a pitchers’ duel, East Carolina entered the ninth inning having threatened to score a few times with no success. Philip Clark changed that as he led off the inning by drawing a walk off YSU relief pitcher Nic Manuppelli, then stole second base. Clark moved to third when freshman Jack Reinheimer laid down a perfect bunt to the third base side of the field, which he was able to leg out for a single.
With runners on the corners, Younger, the No. 9 hitter, stepped into the box having been 0-for-2 on the day, but the thought of pinch-hitting or bunting never crossed coach Billy Godwin’s mind.
“None, zero (thoughts of that),” Godwin said. “That guy is a baseball player, you’re going to love watching Timmy Younger play. With nobody out there was no shot we were going to bunt. With one out maybe. But with the infield in, he’s a .300-.400 hitter, we were going to take our chances right there and let him win the game with a pitch he could drive.”
Younger did just that as he slapped a 3-1 fastball to the right side of the field to score Clark and help the Pirates improve to 2-0 on the season.
“It was a fastball, high and outside and I just took it to right field,” Younger said. “My approach was to try and take it up the middle because the (infield) was playing in. I wanted a pitch I could drive.”
After delivering the game-winning hit, Younger’s teammate Seth Simmons delivered a shaving cream pie to his the face to fully punctuate the win.
Previous to Younger’s big hit, all the attention was on the both team’s pitchers as the Pirates and Penguins staff posted zeroes all the way up until the end.
ECU’s Kevin Brandt (1-0) got the win coming out of the bullpen as he threw four innings of shutout ball, allowing one hit while striking out five and walking one. With the win, the junior improved his career record to 7-1 when coming out of the bullpen.
Brandt came on in the top of the sixth after Pirates starter Zach Woods allowed a leadoff single to David Leon. Brandt, a lefty, delivered a wicked pickoff move to first base which forced Leon into a run down where is was eventually tagged out. Brandt proceeded to strikeout the next batter and then induce a pop fly out to end the inning.
Upon closing out the ninth inning Brandt, who was not scheduled to pitch had there been a 10th inning, got his team fired up as he walked off the mound pointing and yelling.
“I was just saying ‘this is it. This is our time, let’s do it now, no extra innings’”,” Brandt said.
Godwin was impressed with Brandt’s work.
“I thought Kevin was outstanding,” Godwin said. “I thought he would be a good matchup for them … It’s a nice option to have (in the bullpen). Kevin was given the opportunity today to come out of the bullpen and he did an outstanding job.”
Before Brandt took the mound, Woods had pitched a solid game as he finished the day allowing only three hits in five innings while striking out six and walking one.
In his first start of the season, Woods struggled during a 23-pitch first inning, but settled down as the game went on.
“The fastball and curve was definitely there,” Woods said. “The cutter was there later in the game and the changeup finally came along a little later in the game.”
The Penguins (0-2, Horizon League) got a solid outing from their starter as well. Kevin McCullough took the hill and let up three hits in six innings of work, while tallying seven strikeouts and four walks.
The Pirates had a few scoring opportunities early but could not cash in on them. Catcher Zach Wright (1-3) led off the second with a double, then advanced to third on a Chase McDonald (1-3) single. With two on and no outs, Godwin elected to suicide squeeze with Clark at the plate. Clark’s bunt rolled toward the pitcher, who promptly threw home and nailed Wright at the plate. After that, Reinheimer hit into a double play.
In the top of the sixth, ECU was able to load up the bases with one out, but could not produce a run.
“That was disappointing … We certainly have to do a better job when we have a runner on third base with less than two outs,” Godwin said.
These two teams will play the third and final game of the series today at 1 p.m. East Carolina is expected to pitch Mike Wright, while YSU will trot out Robert Switka.