ERRORS SINK PIRATES: ECU slips up four times in loss to Vols

Published 9:04 pm Saturday, March 5, 2016

MICHAEL PRUNKA | DAILY NEWS BEHIND THE PLATE: Travis Watkins tosses the ball back to the pitcher between innings.

BEHIND THE PLATE: Travis Watkins tosses the ball back to the pitcher between innings.

GREENVILLE — Errors buried the East Carolina baseball team in its second game of the Keith LeClair Classic against Tennessee as the Volunteers rode the Pirates’ mistakes to a 5-2 victory Saturday night.

ECU (7-3) faced another strong left handed starter, this time in the form of Zach Warren (3-0). Warren worked through six and two-thirds innings and surrendered two runs on eight hits while striking out seven.

“He was mixing it up pretty well and working off of his fastball today,” said senior outfielder Parker Lamm, who was 1-for-5 in the game. “I don’t think we were ready for the fastball and usually with a guy like that, you want to be thinking about right-center field but he was coming in on us. We put some good swings on the ball today but the hits just didn’t fall for us.”

After falling behind 3-0 in the first inning, ECU loaded the bases with one out in the bottom half of the frame. However, the sophomore composed himself and got Dwanya Williams-Sutton to strike out before Luke Bolka grounded out to short to end the inning.

The Pirates threatened again in the fourth and loaded the bases with one out. Again, Warren worked out of the jam and popped out Turner Brown and Lamm to end the inning.

“We just have to execute better, that’s the thing coach has been talking to us about,” Lamm said. “I mean, everyone tries so hard in those situations to come through for the team. We just need to relax and play our game and it will come to us.”

As much as ECU struggled to execute offensively, things were just as frustrating in the field. The Pirates were charged with four errors in the game and have now committed 14 errors in the last four games.

Tennessee’s (7-2) Jeff Moberg reached base on a Charlie Yorgen error to start the game and Moberg later scored on a Nick Senzel RBI single. Senzel scored from third when ECU starter Jacob Wolfe failed to field a bunt cleanly off the bat of Tyler Schultz.

Wolfe threw seven innings and helped preserve ECU’s bullpen for Sunday with an efficient performance. Wolfe allowed four runs on seven hits but only one of his runs were earned.

Trailing 3-0 in the sixth inning, Senzel reached second on a double. On a pitch to Vincent Jackson, ECU catcher Travis Watkins tried to pick off Senzel, but an errant throw sailed into center and gave Senzel third base. Senzel scored off a sacrifice fly by Jordan Rodgers.

“The past few days, we haven’t played good defense,” said ECU head coach Cliff Godwin. “You can’t commit four errors and expect to win against a good team. We didn’t do enough defensively, we didn’t do enough offensively. Jacob Wolfe pitched well but we had the bases loaded twice and couldn’t do anything.”

Senzel, a widely regarded future first round draft pick in this June’s MLB Draft, was 3-for-4 with an RBI, three runs scored and two stolen bases. The junior also made a pair of spectacular plays in the field.

“He’s swinging the bat, he makes plays in the field, I mean, he’s one of the best third basemen in the country,” said ECU head coach Cliff Godwin. “He’s going to make himself a lot of money.”

ECU got two runs back in the seventh as Brown started the inning with a single. With one out, Yorgen singled to put runners on first and second. ECU continues to hit well with two outs and Eric Tyler was the beneficiary this time through as he plated Brown and Yorgen with a two-RBI double. But it was too little too late.

Godwin said his plan if for his team to have an 8-3 record through each 11 game stretch, which would land the team at 40 wins to finish the season. Through 10 games, the Pirates are 7-3 and have a chance to meet their mark Sunday against Maryland, who is currently 2-0 in the LeClair Classic.