CLEARWATER, Fla. (ECU Media Relations) – Despite a career-outing by freshman Sam Lanier on the hill, East Carolina dropped its second game of the 2016 American Athletic Conference Baseball Championship to Memphis, 5-4, Thursday afternoon at Bright House Field.
With the loss, the Pirates fall to 34-21-1 on the season and were eliminated from The American Baseball Championships. It marked the first time since 1995 that ECU failed to record a win in a postseason league tournament play, which was when it was a member of the Colonial Athletic Association. Memphis improved to 20-38 and will face either USF of UConn Friday for a spot in the semifinal round of the championship.
Alex Hicks (1-2) picked up the win for the Tigers allowing one run (earned) on three hits with two strikeouts in three innings of relief. Starter Matt Ferguson lasted 4.1 frames where he was touched for three runs (all earned) on four hits with three walks and one strikeout. Nolan Blackwood notched his seventh save tossing 1.2 scoreless innings giving up a hit and striking out one.
Jimmy Boyd (7-5) suffered the loss surrendering five runs (four earned) on five hits with a walk in 2.1 innings. Lanier tallied a career-high six strikeouts in a career-best 4.2 innings of relief. The right-hander retired the first 10 batters he faced and 14 of 15 on the day. Matt Bridges worked the eighth inning allowing one hit.
Darien Tubbs, who was 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI and two runs led the Tigers seven-hit attack. Jacob Elliott drove in a pair of runs going 1-for-4, while Jason Santana had a sac fly to account for another run.
A trio of Pirates in Garrett Brooks, Eric Tyler, and Travis Watkins each had two base knocks on the afternoon. Kirk Morgan, Tyler and Watkins each plated runs, while Brooks, Parker Lamm, Tyler and Watkins all scored.
Tubbs staked the Tigers to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on his third home run of the year (two-run) to left-center.
ECU tied the game at two-all pushing across a pair of runs in the second inning. Brooks singled down the left field line with one out and move to second on a wild pitch. Tyler followed with an RBI single pulling ECU within one, 2-1. A pair of Memphis errors allowed Tyler to score from second base pulling the Pirates even.
The Tigers answered with a run in the second and two in the third to take a 5-2 lead after three frames. Chris Carrier reached on an error, took second when Trent Turner was hit by a pitch and third on a sac bunt by Jake Overbey. Santana plated Carrier on a ground out to first, which gave Memphis a 3-2 lead. Elliott’s two-RBI single in the third plated Little and Tubbs extending the lead to three, 5-2.
RBI singles by Watkins (fifth inning) and a bases loaded fielder’s choice by Morgan (seventh inning) pulled the Pirates within one, 5-4. ECU had a chance to plate more runs in the seventh with runners on the corners and two outs, but Blackwood got pinch hitter Zack Mozingo to strikeout to end the frame.
The Pirates will now have to wait to see where they will be going for NCAA Regional play, which will be announced on Monday, May 30 at 12 noon on ESPNU. ECU will hold a Watch Party at Mellow Mushroom in the outdoor patio area (weather permitting) on Monday and Pirate fans are encouraged to arrive at 11:30 a.m. (ET) to greet the team.