Kuchmaner throws ECU’s first perfect game in series sweep of Maryland
Published 1:01 am Monday, March 18, 2019
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — East Carolina pitcher Jake Kuchmaner did more than just earn the sweep for the Pirates up in Maryland this weekend. Kuchmaner did something no ECU pitcher has done before. His 27 faced batters did not record a hit and did not get on base. Kuchmaner threw the first perfect game in Pirate history Sunday afternoon.
Nearly a third of Maryland’s (10-8) at-bats fell victim to the eight strikeouts Kuchmaner delivered in the game, and the lefty also picked up 10 fly outs and nine ground outs en route to the series-sweeping victory.
ECU (15-6) completed the sweep behind the 3-0 victory tossed Sunday as it saw its second shutout of the weekend become official behind the strikeout on the 27th batter. The Pirates’ first shutout came in a 9-0 series opener Friday and the series win came in a 2-1 pitching duel Saturday. The series sweep of Maryland is the second in as many seasons and the Pirates have rolled their way to four shutouts in that span with a 40-5 run differential across those series.
The perfect game is the first in more than one year for the NCAA, dating back to Feb. 24, 2018, when the University of Washington’s Joe DeMers threw one against North Dakota State. It is also the 11th game in ECU history in which an opponent did not record a hit and is the first since 2005 when Ricky Brooks no-hit the University of Memphis.
ECU got on the board with two runs in the top of the sixth inning on Thomas Francisco’s two-run base hit that scored Spencer Brickhouse and Turner Brown. Brickhouse and Brown co-lead the Pirates in hits Sunday with two. Seth Caddell added ECU’s third run with a solo home run in the top of the ninth.
On Saturday, the Pirates won a pitching battle thanks to a strong showing from Tyler Smith. Smith tossed two strikeouts and allowed just one earned run across a season-high six innings in a defensive battle that saw just eight combined hits throughout the game for both teams.
A familiar face led ECU in hits in the game, as Alec Burleson led all batters with two hits. His on-base appearances transitioned to runs scored in the second inning for the Pirates, the inning in which the club picked up its two runs.
With two outs in the inning, Burleson anxiously waited on third base as Brady Lloyd stepped to the plate. Lloyd hit an infield single and beat the throw to first, allowing Burleson to cross home plate for the first run of the game. After stealing second base, Lloyd raced home after Dusty Baker’s sure-flyout fell in front of Terrapin left fielder Caleb Walls for what would become the winning run in the contest.
Friday’s series opener was the complete opposite, as the Pirates rolled to a 9-0 victory highlighted by a five-run third inning and Jake Agnos going seven scoreless innings for the third time this season.
Burleson again got the scoring started as he hit a sacrifice fly RBI in the top of the first to score Bryant Packard, who reached base in the leadoff spot in one of his four hits of the game. He went 4-for-5 and lead all batters in hits for the game.
Packard got on base with his second hit of the game in the top of the third and came home on Burleson’s second RBI of the game, a sacrifice fly. Packard moved to third after Lane Hoover hit a sacrifice bunt and Spencer Brickhouse walked. Turner Brown joined the party with one of his three hits in the game before Jake Washer took his lone game hit for a three-run home run to right center.
ECU will return home Wednesday to face in-state opponent the University of North Carolina at Wilmington for a 6:30 p.m. start in its only midweek game of the week.