Weekend Roundup: ECU drops weekend series at Rice
Published 3:02 pm Monday, March 14, 2016
HOUSTON, TX — Over the weekend, the East Carolina baseball team dropped two of three games with national powerhouse and former Conference USA foe, Rice.
Things looked promising for the nationally-ranked Pirates after a 10-1 win Friday night. Strong pitching anchored ECU through the victory while a late-innings offensive explosion put the game away. Leading 2-0 in the sixth, the Pirates tacked on eight runs in the seventh and eighth innings to run away from the Owls.
Evan Kruczynski threw seven innings for the Pirates and allowed seven hits and just one run. Senior Nick Durazo came in for the eighth inning and allowed two runners to reach in the inning but limited the damage and left the pair stranded. Freshman Matt Bridges pitched the ninth and allowed Blake Fox to single before getting Hunter Kopycinski to ground into a double play to end the game.
Eric Tyler got things started in the Pirates’ massive six-run eighth inning with a solo home run. Turner Brown, Charlie Yorgen, Travis Watkins and Kirk Morgan also notched RBIs in the inning and the Pirates ran away with game one of the series.
Saturday and Sunday’s matchups posed very different problems for the Pirates. Saturday, Rice jumped on ECU starter Jacob Wolfe early and tagged the southpaw for a run in the first and second inning. Wolfe lasted just 4.2 innings and allowed two runs on five hits. From there, head coach Cliff Godwin rolled out four relievers, three of which allowed runs.
Sam Lanier, Evan Voliva (slated to start Tuesday against North Carolina) and Chris Holba each lasted two-thirds of an inning. Lanier and Voliva allowed two runs each while Holba allowed one. Freshman Denny Brady finished the game on the hill. He threw 1.1 innings and did not allow a hit.
Rice’s Andrew Dunlap was 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored. Dunlap plated two runs in a four-run sixth inning with a single that scored Dayne Wunderlich and Ryan Chandler.
Travis Watkins made it a one-run game in the fourth inning with a solo home run, his first of the season. That would be the closest ECU would get in the 7-2 loss.
Sunday, the Pirates were locked into a pitcher’s’ duel between Jimmy Boyd and Ricardo Salinas. Boyd rolled through 7.1 innings and allowed one run on five hits. The lone run came across in the eighth inning with a Dunlap home run with one out.
Godwin called on Joe Ingle to relieve Boyd following the blast. The sophomore has a knack for getting himself into trouble before working out of a jam. So, when Ingle walked the first two batters he faced, there was little panic. Ingle followed the pair of walks with a hit batsman. Godwin turned to Durazo, looking for a double play ball to end the inning.
However, Ford Procter tripled home three runs and pushed Rice out to a 4-1 lead. Durazo picked up consecutive outs and stranded a runner in scoring position to end the eighth. With a runner on first in the ninth, Morgan grounded into a game-ending double play.
This is the first weekend series loss for the Pirates of the 2016 campaign. The Pirates will have another tough test Tuesday when North Carolina comes to Greenville in the first leg of a home-and-home split with the Tar Heels.