SCOOTING BY: Pirates top Maryland in Keith LeClair Classic
Published 9:58 pm Sunday, March 6, 2016
GREENVILLE — East Carolina stranded its first five runners in scoring position, but made the plays when it needed to en route to a 4-3 win over Maryland. The Pirates had to battle back from a 2-0 deficit in the fifth and scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth.
Joe Ingle had an exceptional showing out of the bullpen. He conceded a pair of hits and an earned run in 3.2 innings of relief work.
“I felt very good. My arm’s still good. I could probably throw another inning if I wanted to,” Ingle laughed.
The one run the Terrapins did get off him occurred when Madison Nickens reached on a wild pitch that negated what would have been an inning-ending strikeout. He stole second base and then scored when Nick Dunn doubled down the right-field line.
It tied the game at three apiece. Eric Tyler opened the bottom of the eighth with a base hit to right center field. Wes Phillips, pinch-hitting for a struggling Bryce Harman, moved Tyler to second with a sac-bunt. He scored the game-winning run when freshman Dwanya Williams-Sutton belted a double to the right-field wall.
“I know I had a bad weekend this weekend,” Williams-Sutton said. He was 0-for-3 at the plate before batting in the go-ahead run. “I just kept my head high and my teammates backed me up.”
Maryland took the lead with a pair of two-out runs in the top of the fifth. Leadoff batter Kevin Smith nailed a solo homerun to left field to break the ice. Starting pitcher Jimmy Boyd seemed a bit rattled as he threw four consecutive balls to walk Nickens, who then advanced to second on a wild pitch.
Dunn plated Nickens with a base hit down the left-field line, which also chased Boyd from the mound in favor of Nick Durazo. He conceded a hit before catching Marty Costes looking to escape the inning.
ECU got two runners on with no outs to start the bottom of the fourth. Charlie Yorgen leadoff by doubling down the right-field line and Travis Watkins got hit by a pitch. Eric Tyler pushed the two into scoring position with a sac bunt.
However, that was as close to breaking the ice as the Pirates would get. Harman was caught looking, Williams-Sutton grounded out to second, and the Terps escaped the inning unscathed.
“It goes in spurts. At the beginning of the year, everybody that got on base, we drove them in,” head coach Cliff Godwin said. “It’s the same players. Baseball is just a very hard sport. It’s a game of failure, especially offensively. You guys got to stay positive even if we’re not getting those guys in all the time. It’s a tough game.”
After striking out the side in the second, ECU found itself in trouble of conceding the game’s first run an inning later. Leadoff batters Kevin Smith and Madison Nickens were in scoring position with two outs when Nick Cieri cranked a troublesome hit to left-center field.
Williams-Sutton made a tremendous play in the outfield to keep the game scoreless. He hustled to make the catch, bailing out the Pirates.
The Pirates host George Mason for two midweek meetings. They then set sail for Houston to take on yet another top team in Rice this weekend.