Pirates rally past Blazers, 11-6, in series opener
East Carolina pounds out 17 hits against UAB
No. 30 East Carolina scored nine unanswered runs in its final three at-bats to rally from an early 5-0 to capture an 11-6 win over visiting UAB on Friday night.
Following a two-hour weather delay, the Blazers (17-10, 2-2) jumped on Pirates’ starter Kevin Brandt.
Ivan De Jesus led off the game with a triple to right field and scored on John Frost’s infield single.
UAB built its advantage to 5-0 in the third when it pushed across four runs on five hits off ECU’s senior southpaw.
Frost made it 2-0 when he led off the frame with a 400-foot plus blast to center. Patrick Palmeiro singled with one out and the Blazers went on to score three runs after there were two outs. Jacob German and Keith DePew produced run-scoring singles.
The Pirates (17-8, 2-2) got on the board with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning.
Tim Younger led off with a double to left and was plated by Philip Clark’s single to left. Clark came around to score on a single by designated hitter Drew Reynolds.
UAB continued to extend its lead in the fourth. With Brandt lifted from the game after just three innings, the Blazers built their lead to four. The Pirates’ sophomore reliever walked the first batter he faced, but after he was caught stealing, Frost and Schalk delivered singles.
ECU head coach Billy Godwin turned to junk baller Dylan Dickens to put out the fire and Dickens nearly did. After allowing a run-scoring single to Palmeiro, he retired Ussery and Bryant to end the inning.
John Wooten and Jay Cannon delivered consecutive singles to open the sixth. After Zach Wright moved them into scoring position with a sac bunt, Bryan Bass singled to make it 6-3.
Brian Shoop lifted starter Dillon Napoleon from the game and Tim Younger greeted reliever Chase Mallard by singling to center to pull ECU to within 6-4.
A sacrifice fly by Jack Reinheimer made it 6-5 before the inning concluded with the bases full of Pirates.
ECU went on to take the lead in the seventh.
Jay Cannon and Zach Wright reached to start the seventh and moved into scoring position when Bryan Bass grounded out to second. Younger proceeded to deliver a go-ahead two-run single.
The Pirates padded their cushion with a four-run eighth.
Reynolds opened the inning with an infield single and Wooten promptly delivered a two-run shot off the right field foul pole to make it 9-6.
Jay Cannon followed with a double to left center and after stealing third scored on a single by Wright. Ben Fultz walked and the runners advanced into scoring position via a wild pitch. Younger yielded a sac fly to produced the final score of 11-6.
The Pirate bats and terrific relief efforts by Dickens and Merritt bailed out Brandt, who suffered his shortest outing of the year.
Dickens allowed three hits over four shutout innings to earn the victory.
Meanwhile, Merritt faced the minimum over his 1.2 innings of work and struck out the side in the ninth to earn his fourth save.
Jay Cannon led the Pirates with four hits in five at-bats while Tim Younger turned in a fine 3-for-4, four-RBI effort. ECU, which finished with 17 hits, had three other players (Reynolds, Clark and Wooten) with multi-hit games.
John Frost led the Blazers with his 3-for-5 night.
The series will continue on Saturday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Clark-LeClair Stadium.