GREENVILLE, N.C. – A six-run first inning set the tone Friday evening as No. 14 East Carolina eased its way to a 10-4 victory over Memphis in the opener of an American Athletic Conference series at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.
The Pirates (36-14, 13-6 AAC) kept pace with Houston at the top of the league standings, remaining a half-game back of the Cougars with five American Conference outings to go in the regular season title race. The Tigers (26-23, 8-11 AAC) saw their five-game winning streak snapped with the setback.
Danny Beal (4-1) picked up the win in relief, tossing 2.2 scoreless innings with a walk and a strikeout. Seth Garner (1-4) failed to record an out, surrendering five runs (all earned) on four hits with no walks or strikeouts.
Carter Cunningham enjoyed quite the offensive performance, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored while Justin Wilcoxen and Alec Makarewicz each homered and registered three RBI apiece. Will Spears notched two hits for the visiting side.
After starter Josh Grosz maneuvered through a scoreless top of the first, ECU went to work right away at the plate. Lane Hoover led off the frame with a single to left before stealing second and moving to third on a Jacob Starling single to left. Starling also snagged a stolen base as Josh Moylan was hit by a pitch to load the bags with no outs. Jacob Jenkins-Cowart kept the line moving with an RBI single to give the Pirates the 1-0 advantage before Luke Nowak plated a pair with a single to center. Wilcoxen put the exclamation point on the offensive explosion with a tape measure 461-foot blast over the right field wall to push the lead to 6-0.
Brennan Dubose put Memphis on the board with an RBI single in the top of the second as the scoring settled down from that point. East Carolina expanded its upper hand in the bottom of the sixth when Cunningham and Joey Berini singled to begin the half inning and Makarewicz hit a laser over the center field wall for his eighth home run of the season and a 9-1 Pirate edge.
A Berini run-scoring double in the bottom of the seventh drew ECU within a single score of run-rule territory, but the Tigers mustered up three runs in the top of the eighth to reduce their deficit to six. That would prove the game’s final margin as Landon Ginn retired Memphis in order in the ninth.
- East Carolina improved to 27-4 inside Clark-LeClair Stadium this season.
- The Pirates notched double figures in the hit column for the 27th time this season and ran their record to 17-0 when hitting at least two home runs.
- Cunningham’s three hits marked a 2023 season high for the junior.
- ECU collected its fifth-straight win over Memphis.
- The Pirates were 6-for-12 (.500) with runners in scoring position.
Up Next: East Carolina and Memphis continue their series Saturday at 4 p.m.