Virginia Commonwealth takes 2-of-3 at ECU

Published 10:52 am Monday, March 23, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS FIRST PITCH: The Pirates came into the series red-hot but were cooled down by impressive pitching.

FIRST PITCH: The Pirates came into the series red-hot but were cooled down by impressive pitching.

GREENVILLE — East Carolina (16-8) catcher Travis Watkins’ failed pickoff attempt at third during the rubber match of a weekend series with Virginia Commonwealth (11-10) ultimately doomed the Pirates and sent the Rams packing as winners of two.

It’s not quite as arbitrary as that, though. Simply put, outside of their Game 2, 9-3, victory on Saturday, the Pirates failed to make much noise offensively and seemingly couldn’t string multiple hits together, which aided ECU’s losses in the first (3-2 VCU) and third (4-3 VCU) games in the series.

All said, the Pirates notched 18 hits in the three games, averaged six per game, and found little to no help from the heart of the order.

Sluggers Bryce Harman and Luke Lowery came into the series with 42-combined RBI, but both failed to knock in a run in the series. Ultimately, the dangerous duo finished the weekend bout with just three hits to their names.

“Their pitching is really good,” ECU head coach Cliff Godwin said following his team’s 3-2 loss in the final game of the series on Sunday. “The back end of their bullpen, I knew once we got to those guys it was going to be tough to score runs.”

VCU’s bullpen, headed by versatile senior Daniel Concepcion, worked 11 and one-thirds total innings and allowed just five earned runs, which all came in the eighth inning on Saturday off of Thomas Gill.

ECU’s starters in the series, Evan Kruczynski, Jacob Wolfe and David Lucroy we’re at the mercy of quiet bats. Wolfe toed the rubber in the Pirates’ Saturday victory, but the lopsided score was more credited to VCU’s seven errors in the game than ECU’s six hits. At the conclusion of the series, ECU failed to have a game in which it out-hit its opponents, a far cry from the torrid pace that the Pirate offense was going leading up to the series. Reliever Jimmy Boyd was credited with both losses for the Pirates after allowing two total runs.

“It’s just baseball,” shortstop Kirk Morgan said. “You’re going to have it some weekends, and other weekends you’re not. We swung the bats well, we had some good, quality [at-bats]. The ball just didn’t fall for us this weekend.”

Even though the Pirates suffered their first series loss since the opening weekend when they were swept by Virginia, Godwin and his players weren’t completely demoralized by the defeat.

“Their pitching faced challenges for our hitters,” Godwin said of VCU. “You could see that this weekend. That tested us, good pitching like the Virginia series did. We’ll face a lot of those arms going into conference play.

Despite the unceremonious weekend end to an otherwise successful non-conference schedule, the Pirates have the challenge of a new conference looming on Friday after mid-week bouts with UNC-Wilmington and High Point.

Godwin alluded to the tough matchup testing his young Pirates and his players seemed to echo the sentiment.

“It was a competitive series in all three games,” sophomore catcher Travis Watkins said. “It definitely leaves a bad taste in our mouth but I thought our guys competed, we just didn’t get the big hit or the big pitch late. It’s a good learning lesson going into conference play for us.”