STAYING HOT: Pirates score nine ahead of conference opener

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, March 30, 2016

MICHAEL PRUNKA | DAILY NEWS GETTING DIRTY: Travis Watkins slides into home against UNC-Wilmington. He went 2-for-4 at the plate with a run and an RBI, adding to ECU’s sizzling hot offense.

GETTING DIRTY: Travis Watkins slides into home against UNC-Wilmington. He went 2-for-4 at the plate with a run and an RBI, adding to ECU’s sizzling hot offense.

GREENVILLE — The East Carolina offense has been rolling of late and the trend continued Tuesday night, as the Pirates bowled over UNC-Wilmington Tuesday night with a 9-6 win.

After jumping out to a big lead early on, the ECU (17-8) bullpen and Davis Kirkpatrick struggled to close things down. ECU led 8-2 heading into the eighth inning and after a quick first out, things unraveled.

The sophomore allowed five straight hits to the Seahawks (15-7) at the top of the order. Clean-up hitter Nick Feight knocked in a pair with his bases-loaded double. Casey Golden followed and drove in in Gavin Stupienski with a single and make it 8-5. ECU head coach Cliff Godwin turned to reliable closer Joe Ingle and the sophomore answered the bell.

Ingle did not allow a hit but allowed an unearned run in the ninth inning after a Turner Brown error with two outs in the frame. He got the next batter to ground out to first to end the game.

Jacob Wolfe (3-2) took the start Tuesday after a mere 49-pitch outing last Friday against Jacksonville. The junior rolled through 6 1/3 innings of work and allowed two runs on six hits with five strikeouts.

“All pitches were working pretty good for me,” Wolfe said. He issued three walks in the game. “I had my defense behind me the whole time. I was very confident in the defense. I just got outs, came up with shutdown innings when we needed them and we got the win.”

BOUNCE-BACK OUTING: Jacob Wolfe warms up before an inning. He only threw 49 pitches in his start against Jacksonville on Friday, but had a stellar showing in his midweek start. ECU coach Cliff Godwin confirmed Wolfe will start Sunday’s game against Houston.

ECU benefited from production throughout the lineup as seven of the nine starters recorded a hit in the win. There were also seven players that accounted for ECU’s seven RBI. Coming off of a record-setting eight RBI-game Sunday, Eric Tyler’s encore performance wasn’t quite as dazzling, but effective nonetheless.

Tyler was 4-for-4, reached base five times and notched a two-out RBI single in the fourth inning that helped make things daunting for the Seahawks early.

“In baseball, you try to ride a hot streak while you got it,” Tyler said. “I could go 0-for my next 30, so for now I’ll try to ride it while I’ve got it.”

The Pirates tagged UNC-W pitchers for a run in each inning from the second to the sixth. They picked up eight of the team’s nine runs in those innings.

The Pirates opened the floodgates early as they posted three runs in the second inning off Wilmington starter Justin Crump (1-1). Tyler scored the game’s first run on a Bryce Harman single. With no outs and the speedy Dwanya Williams-Sutton on third, Kirk Morgan dropped a sacrifice bunt to plate the freshman and give ECU a 2-0 lead. Parker Lamm added a run with an RBI single with two outs in the inning.

Leading 7-1 in the sixth inning, Travis Watkins smacked his second home run of the season over the left field wall.

“We’re buying into our approach before every game and we did a great job of that today,” Tyler said. “We’re having quality at bats and putting the barrel on the baseball and good things are happening.”

The Pirates added an insurance run in the eighth inning. Tyler had a one-out double and came around to score on a Garrett Brooks double roped down the right field line to take the final 9-6 lead.

The Pirates are preparing for their first conference test of the season when Houston comes to Greenville Friday afternoon.