GREENVILLE, N.C. – No. 9 East Carolina’s offense banged out 11 hits while the senior duo of Cam Colmore and Matt Bridges combined for nine strikeouts over five relief innings helping the Pirates to an 11-8 win over UCF in American Athletic Conference action Saturday at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.
With the win the Pirates improve to 28-6 overall and 10-1 in league play and the Knights fall to 18-21 and 8-7.
Leading 6-5 heading into the bottom of the sixth, ECU scored five runs over the next three frames and held on for the win taking two games to one advantage in the series. Thomas Francisco blasted his sixth home run of the season, a solo shot to right-center, in the sixth giving the Pirates a two-run lead at 7-5. A pair of unearned runs on Lane Hoover’s bunt with two away in the seventh extended the lead, while Bryson Worrell’s RBI double and Ryder Giles’ sac fly accounted for both runs in the eighth for an 11-6 advantage.
Colmore (5-0) earned the win in relief allowing one run (earned) on two hits with a walk and four strikeouts over three innings. Starter Jake Kuchmaner gave up five runs (all earned) on eight hits in three full frames. Matt Bridges, who entered the game in the seventh with a runner on first and the Pirates up 7-6, struck outs five and allowed one hit over his two innings of work. Ryder Giles tossed the eight surrendering a pair of runs (both earned) on two hits with a pair of strikeouts.
AJ Jones (3-3) took the loss giving up six runs (all earned) on four hits with two walks in a third of an inning. The Knights would use four arms out of the bullpen getting outings from Billy McKay (2.1 IP, 4 BBs, 2 Ks), Ben Vespi (4.0 IP, 2 Rs, 2 Ks), Hunter Patteson (0.2 IP 3 Rs) and Nick Vieira (0.2 IP, 1 K).
ECU jumped out to an early lead scoring six runs in the first frame for a 6-0 advantage. With one out in the frame, eight consecutive batters reached base thanks to four hits, three walks and a hit by pitch. Alec Makarewicz plated the first run with an RBI single to left, which was followed by a two-RBI single by Zach Agnos. Ben Newton laced a shot through the left side scoring another before Worrell was hit by a pitch. Giles followed with a bases loaded walk and two batters later, Francisco drew another walk accounting for all six runs.
UCF chipped into the lead pushing across two runs in the second and three in the third making it a one-run game, 6-5. Jose Montes’ two-RBI single in the second accounted for the first set of runs, while Alex Freeland (hit by pitch), Montes (sac bunt) and Pablo Ruiz (sac fly) highlighted the third stanza.
Josh Crouch and Ben McCabe’s back-to-back home runs in the ninth capped the scoring at 11-8.
Eight different Pirates recorded hits on the afternoon with Agnos, Francisco and Newton each registering a pair. The trio of Agnos, Francisco and Giles each drove in a pair of runs, while Makarewicz, Newton and Worrell added an RBI. Connor Norby extended his on-base streak to 41 games with a walk in the seventh and Francisco’s streak moved to 37 games with his free pass in the initial frame.
ECU and UCF will conclude the four-game series Sunday, April 25 with a 12 noon (ET) scheduled first pitch and will be streamed on ECUPirates.com.