East Carolina wins first AAC series, takes 2-of-3 from Tulane

Published 12:49 pm Monday, April 6, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS FIRST PITCH: East Carolina junior Luke Lowery had yet another multi-hit day in the final game of the three-game series against Tulane.

FIRST PITCH: East Carolina junior Luke Lowery had yet another multi-hit day in the final game of the three-game series against Tulane.

GREENVILLE — Fueled by a complete-game shutout by pitcher Reid Love in Game 1 and an offensive onslaught in Game 2, the East Carolina (19-13, 3-3 AAC) baseball team won its first American Athletic Conference series over the weekend, taking two from Tulane (20-12, 2-4 AAC).

In the friendly confines of Clark-LeClair Stadium, the Pirates wasted no time dispatching the visiting Green Wave. The senior Love (3-2) made a rare start in the series-opening matchup and pitched his way to a complete-game, 3-0 win on Thursday.

Love, who lowered his ERA to 2.88, finished the game having faced two batters over the minimum and allowed just four hits while striking out six.

“I wasn’t expecting him to start and finish it,” head coach Cliff Godwin admitted after the game. “It was just great, the way he pitched and worked the strike zone … that’s what we needed (Thursday).”

The low scoring affair would prove to be an anomaly, as both teams’ offenses came to life in the final two games of the series.

In Games 2 and 3, the two teams combined to manufacture 29 runs.

ECU slugger Bryce Harman’s two-home run performance powered the Pirates to an 11-4 victory in the second game, while Love continued his production at the plate, notching a home run of his own and cementing the series win.

“We talk about winning weekends all the time so even though we didn’t sweep, it was good to win the series,” sophomore pitcher and infielder Kirk Morgan said. “Hopefully we can keep the momentum rolling.”

The offensive production that helped the Pirates blow by the Green Wave in Friday’s Game 2 continued into the final game of the series with a chance to sweep Tulane.

Four Pirates — Charlie Yorgen, Travis Watkins, Luke Lowery and Morgan — notched multiple hits in the final game.

Though ECU registered six runs on 12 hits, Pirate pitchers were besieged by the Green Wave lineup.

“Offensively we came around,” Godwin said. “But we made it an offensive day for them because we gave them some free base runners.”

Junior pitcher David Lucroy (2-2) was called on for the start, but surrendered four runs, one of which was earned, and couldn’t get out of the third inning before a cast of relievers came in only to suffer the same fate.

“He didn’t throw enough strikes,” Godwin said of Lucroy’s performance. “What he’s been really good at this year is when he’s a head in the count and he gets after guys but when he’s down [in the count] it’s tough for him to be effective.”

Despite the loss in Game 3, ECU turned around the offensive struggles that have plagued the team of late. The struggles culminated in last weekend’s series with Memphis, where the Pirates logged just eight runs on their way to dropping the series.

“We were in a slump that past couple weeks and its nice to know that there are no doubts in any of our hitters’ minds right now,” Yorgen said. ‘”Everyone is really confident right now.”

Senior shortstop and team captain Hunter Allen had perhaps the worst offensive weekend, going just 2-for-11 but he has been playing with a torn ligament in his thumb that will require surgery at season’s end. His lack of production wasn’t enough to hinder the ECU lineup, as several Pirate batters had multi-hit games.

Yorgen boasted a team-high six-hit weekend, picking up two hits in every game, while Morgan tallied five hits of his own in the series, helping their team win it’s first weekend series since a mid-March sweep of Elon.

“You can see how good we competed,” Godwin said. “We played really well the first two nights. To sweep a team in this conference you have to play really well in all three games and we didn’t do that.”