Wake Forest fights back to edge East Carolina

Published 11:02 am Thursday, March 13, 2014




By Michael Prunka

Sports Intern

East Carolina (8-9, 1-2 Conference USA) exploded to a 3-0 lead in the first inning but couldn’t maintain the offensive production to claim a win over in-state rival Wake Forest (12-6).

ECU was close to claiming a 4-2 win after a storm hit at the end of the fifth inning. The delay lasted an hour and 38 minutes. The Demon Deacons came thundering back after play resumed, allowing them to leave Fleming Stadium in Wilson with a 5-4 win.

“I don’t think [the delay] affected us,” said ECU manager Billy Godwin. “I just think [Wake Forest] played well in the last part of the game. I don’t think the rain delay had anything to do with it. It was a tough loss for us. We just keep grinding.”

Wake Forest outhit ECU 12-4. The Pirates managed to take an early led, but were unable to string together quality trips to the plate that would result in the consistent scoring needed to stay on top.

“Runs are scored by putting one good at bat together after another,” Godwin said. “It’s an individual game. If you want to score runs in this game, you’ve got to hit the ball out, hit the ball in a gap, or you’ve got to bunch hits together. We have not been able to bunch hits together, and it makes it tough to score runs.”

Bryce Harman helped ECU leap out to an early three-run lead with his first collegiate home run in the first inning. Ben Fultz led off and was walked by Wake Forest pitcher Matt Pirro, who then proceeded to put Zach Houchins on base by hitting him with a pitch. Harman, fifth in the batting order, notched three runs with a bomb that cleared the board of advertisements in right field of Fleming Stadium.

“It’s a good feeling,” said Harman regarding his first home run. “I’m a big team guy. I’m glad I finally got one down, but I just wish we could have gotten the win.”

ECU retired the Demon Deacons in order in the bottom of the first, but they managed to get two runs back in the second. With two outs, Kirk Morgan made a diving save at shortstop, but Harman missed the throw at first base.

The Pirates would score one more run in the top of the fourth before their offensive output dried up.

After the storm passed and the game resumed, Ryan Williams (4-1) took over pitching duties for Tyler Bolton. He had an uncharacteristically poor showing that resulted in seven hits and three runs (two earned) in 2.2 innings pitched. With that, he was credited with his first loss of the season.

ECU has now lost three straight and four of its last five. The Pirates host Tulane in Clark-LeClair Stadium this weekend. They hope to right the ship and bring their record back above .500 with a series win against a conference opponent.