GREENVILLE, N.C. – In front of a Clark-LeClair Stadium record crowd of 6,003 Friday night, No. 11 East Carolina scored six runs in the bottom of the eighth to erase a 3-0 deficit and hold on for a thrilling 6-5 non-conference win over No. 12 North Carolina.
The Pirates (4-1) visit the Tar Heels (4-2) Sunday at 1 p.m. to complete the home and home set.
Wyatt Lunsford-Shenkman (1-1) worked 0.2 scoreless innings and struck out a pair to earn his first victory of the season while Dalton Pence (1-1) was saddled with the loss after surrendering four runs (three earned) on three hits and a walk. Freshman LHP Zach Root notched his first collegiate save, eventually erasing the visitors in the top of the ninth with the tying run at third base.
Jacob Starling, one of the offensive catalysts in the consequential eighth inning, finished with two hits, two RBI and a run scored while four other ECU batters drove in a run each. Mac Horvath paced North Carolina with a 3-for-5 performance.
After two quick scoreless frames, North Carolina grabbed an early 1-0 lead thanks to a leadoff long ball off the bat of Jackson Van De Brake. The Tar Heels threatened to plate more as the frame progressed, but Pirate starter Trey Yesavage,, who struck out a career high eight in a no decision, worked out of a bit of a jam with a pair of runners in scoring position to keep the deficit at one.
North Carolina looked to have scored the necessary insurance runs in the top of the seventh thanks to a two-run double by Colby Wilkerson, but East Carolina had other plans in the late stages.
Alec Makarewicz worked a walk on a full count to lead things off before Josh Moylan ripped a one-out RBI double down the right field line to plate pinch runner Ryley Johnson. Joey Berini followed with a two-bagger of his own down the left field line to drive in Moylan and pull the Pirates within one at 3-2. A Jacob Jenkins-Cowart single moved Berini to third and Lane Hoover hit a comebacker to the mound that was mishandled and allowed pinch runner Nathan Chrismon to cross home plate and knot the score at three.
With the crowd in full throat at that point, Starling laced a two-run single to center field to propel ECU in front for good. Luke Nowak put the exclamation point on the rally with an RBI single that pushed Starling across.
The Tar Heels made it interesting in the top of the ninth, tallying a pair of runs on consecutive RBI doubles, but Root slammed the door shut by inducing a ground out to third and a fly ball to left that Hoover squeezed in his glove to seal the win.
- The stadium record crowd of 6,003 surpassed the 5,807 that took in game two of the 2022 NCAA Greenville Super Regional (6/11/22).
- ECU won its fourth-straight decision over North Carolina at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
- Jenkins-Cowart and Nowak extended their season-opening hitting streaks to five games.
- ECU went 4-for-9 (.444) with runners in scoring position.
- The Pirate pitching staff struck out a season-high 13 batters for the second time this season.