Pirates down Blue Devils in extras

Published 12:01 pm Thursday, April 23, 2015

GREENVILLE — Just a day removed from a ninth inning walk-off single to beat N.C. State, East Carolina (26-16, 6-6 AAC) once again stunned an in-state Atlantic Coast Conference team in dramatic fashion, this time the Duke Blue Devils (22-18, 5-15 ACC) thanks to a 10th inning RBI single by Luke Lowery.

In what could be described as a vanilla affair, it took an extra frame of baseball and a combined total of 12 pitchers to finally end the Thursday night, 3-2, contest.

It wasn’t until the 10th inning when Reid Love slashed a single that the game began to liven up.

Seldom-used sophomore Cam Snow entered the game for Love and thus began a cat-and-mouse affair between the speedy Snow and Duke pitcher Kenny Koplove. After a steal of second base, Koplove stepped off the rubber multiple times to keep a close watch on Snow.

“It was gut wrenching,” Snow said of his swipe of second. “I knew I had to take that bag. I got there, I got a good jump.”

As the crowd’s impatient boos rained down on the junior pitcher, he took a break from focusing on Snow at second and hurled a slider to Lowery, which was grooved over into left field. A throw to the plate was wide and Snow crossed home, cementing the Pirates’ second consecutive walk-off victory.

“[Head coach Cliff Godwin] said don’t get picked off,” Snow recalled. “The guy had a good pick off move, he was showing it all game. The number one thing was don’t get picked off right there, we needed that run.”

Lowery ended the night with more than just a game-winning hit, as team captain Hunter Allen gave him a shaving cream pie to the face.

“Back-to-back walk-off wins against two in-state rivals, that’s just something that everyone wants to be a part of,” Lowery said.

His heroics couldn’t have come at a better time. Up to that crucial point in the game, the junior slugger had yet to tally a hit and his team hadn’t manufactured a run since fourth inning.

No Duke pitcher lasted more than two innings, a challenge that kept ECU batters off balance all game.

“They just try to mix and match,” Godwin said. “They slow the pace down and it kind of kills your momentum sometimes. It’s good for us down the road because we saw all kinds of different pitchers. It’ll prepare us further down the road.”

Despite outhitting the Pirates, albeit by a 10-9 margin, Duke suffered it’s 11th consecutive defeat at the hands of ECU. The last time the two teams met was back in 2007 when ECU claimed an 11-4 win.

Only the eight and nine hitters in the lineup, Garrett Brooks and Jackson Mims, managed more than one hit in the game for the Pirates and starting pitcher Kirk Morgan, last night’s hero, stymied the Blue Devil offense during his four innings of work.

“Kirk, he hasn’t pitched in a month because of his hamstring, and for him to go out there and give us four innings, that was huge for us,” Godwin said.

Winners of six of its last seven, ECU gained some much-needed momentum as it prepares for a weekend series with the No. 24-ranked Central Florida Knights.