GREENVILLE, N.C. – Down one heading into the bottom of the ninth, No. 10 East Carolina put together a stirring rally and utilized a Jacob Starling RBI single with the bases loaded to defeat Missouri State 4-3 and clinch a big non-conference series at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.

The Pirates (15-4) registered their first walkoff win since an 8-7 triumph over Memphis back on April 10, 2021 while the Bears (11-7) lost their first series since opening weekend.

ECU notched nine of their 11 hits in the fifth inning or later and held Missouri State to just one run on two hits in the final four frames.

Starling, Lane Hoover and Alec Makarewicz all recorded two hits each while Starling drove in a pair of runs. In all nine Pirate hitters finished with a base hit apiece. Nick Rodriguez went 3-for-4 with two runs scored to lead the visitors.

Carter Spivey put together a strong start, allowing just two earned runs on four hits with two walks and a career-high nine strikeouts in five innings of work. Jake Hunter (1-1) collected his first victory of the season as he yielded just one hit and struck out three in the final 2.2 frames. Trey Ziegenbein (0-2) was saddled with the loss, surrendering two runs on four hits with four strikeouts in 2.0 innings.

With two away in the bottom of the first, Josh Moylan laced a double down the right field line, but a strikeout stranded him at second. Dylan Robertson would reach third in the top of the second to give the Bears a chance at the lead, but Spivey induced a fly ball to right for the third out. Missouri State had runners at the corners once more in the third before a sharp grounder to first was handled by Moylan to keep things scoreless.

The Bears struck for the first runs of the contest in the fifth. Cam Cratic singled to lead things off before Rodriguez doubled to left center with one out. A groundout plated Cratic and a wild pitch allowed Rodriguez to cross home to give Missouri State a 2-0 advantage.

East Carolina responded instantly in the home half of the inning. With one away, Joey Berini deposited the first pitch he saw into right field and Makarewicz followed with a single through the right side. Hoover kept the line moving, going the other way with a single to left before Luke Nowak dropped a base hit into right field to score Berini. Starling then grounded out to short as Makarewicz scooted home to forge a 2-2 deadlock.

Hunter entered in a massive spot in the seventh after the Bears grabbed a 3-2 edge thanks to a pair of walks and a Taeg Gollert RBI single, facing a bases loaded, one-out situation. He worked through it masterfully, coaxing an infield fly to short on his first pitch and fanning Jake McCutcheon to keep the Pirates within striking distance.

Justin Wilcoxen sparked the rally in the bottom of the ninth, roping the first pitch of the inning into right field. Carter Cunningham then stepped up and ripped a single down the right field line to send pinch runner Cam Murphy to third and put ECU in business. Makarewicz tied the game with a single through the right side while advancing Cunningham to third. An error on the infield during a fielder’s choice attempt juiced the bases with one out and Starling did not miss, pounding a 1-0 offering back up the middle to plate Cunningham for the game winner.

Postgame Notes Graphic
  • East Carolina notched its eighth come-from-behind victory of the season.
  • ECU improved to 12-1 at Clark-LeClair Stadium in 2023.
  • The Pirate pitching staff recorded double-digit strikeouts for the fifth-straight game and 11th time this season.
  • East Carolina finished with double figures in the hit column for the 11th time in the campaign.
  • Starling reached base safely for the 27th-straight contest thanks to his two-hit performance.

Up Next: The Pirates and Bears meet in the series finale Sunday at 1 p.m.