ECU loses series at UCLA, swept for first time in 2019

Published 10:58 am Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Los Angeles — East Carolina traveled cross country to take on UCLA for a break in American Athletic Conference play, but found itself swept for the first time in 2019, despite being in two of the three games late in the contest.

On doubleheader Saturday, ECU (25-10, 8-1 AAC) dropped the series finale in shutout fashion, 3-0. Bruins starter Ryan Garcia (4-0) gave up just three hits in seven scoreless frames with 13 strikeouts, and two UCLA (27-6, 9-3 Pacific-12 Conference) relievers combined for just one hit. Jake Kuchmaner (3-1) took the loss, his first of the season, after giving up two runs on four hits in 5.1 innings of work.

After singling to start the third inning, UCLA’s Matt McLain ended up crossing home plate for the winning run on Kuchmaner’s second wild pitch of the inning. The Bruins held that lead into the sixth, when Chase Strumpf hit a solo home run to left field. UCLA added one more insurance run in the eighth when McLain was called safe at home, making it all the way from second base after an infield single. ECU’s Spencer Brickhouse looked to have thrown him out at home with a bullet to catcher Seth Caddell, but the call of safe stood.

Alec Burleson and Bryant Packard each had two hits for ECU and accounted for the only hits of the game. Brickhouse and Caddell were the only other two Pirates to see the bases in the game as each incurred a walk from Garcia. Dusty Baker and Thomas Francisco each fell victim to the strikeout three times, while Brickhouse, Caddell and Brady Lloyd each had two, and Ryder Giles ate one more.

In Saturday’s first game of the doubleheader, the Pirates lost in walk-off fashion as Michael Toglia hit his second home run of the series, a three-run homer off of Burleson with the game tied at five.

ECU had to turn to a second starter as Tyler Smith went just 3.1 innings and gave up two earned runs (three total) on four hits and had three walks. Gavin Williams quickly came in, but gave up the same number of runs in 2.2 innings on three hits.

Bullpen favorite Zach Barnes came in at the start of the seventh inning and tossed two scoreless frames before Burleson (2-1) went just 0.1 innings before the home run. Barnes’ work allowed the ECU offense to get to UCLA reliever Nate Hadley to notch the game at five on Turner Brown’s RBI-double that scored Brickhouse from first base. Brown lead the Pirates with three RBIs in the game and Burleson had the other, while Brickhouse crossed home twice and Packard, Burleson and Lloyd each plated once.

In the series opener on Friday, ECU found itself up 5-2, but ended up losing in 7-5. Brickhouse and Burleson each had two-run base hits back to back in the fourth that saw the 5-2 advantage emerge.

However, UCLA scored three runs in the sixth inning to tie it, along with the game winning two-run hit from Toglia in the eighth, before blanking ECU in the top of the ninth.

Reliever Evan Voliva got the loss after giving up the two runs in the eighth in just one inning pitched. UCLA pitcher Hadley, who gave up the tying run in Saturday’s contest, earned his fifth win of the season after tossing two scoreless frames.

The Pirates will finish out their long road trip with an in-state battle at Elon today. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.