Thomas Francisco tallied a career-high three hits and Jake Kuchmaner scattered three runs over 7.1 innings helping No. 6 ECU to a 5-3 series win over Memphis Friday night at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium. With the win the Pirates set the American Athletic Conference record for league wins (20) and consecutive series wins (eight) in a season as they improve to 42-12 overall and 20-3 in AAC action. The Tigers dropped to 26-26 on the season and fell to 9-13 in league play.
For the second-straight night, ECU drew first blood scoring a pair of runs in the first for an early 2-0 lead. Bryant Packard singled up the middle pushing his on-base streak to 31 consecutive games and moved to third on Dusty Baker’s base hit through the right side. Spencer Brickhouse plated the first run on his single through the right side and Alec Burleson followed with an RBI ground out to second the scored Baker.
Kuchmaner (6-1) earned the win allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits while walking one and striking out seven. The lefty had at least one punch out in five of eight frames he worked with multiple strikeouts in the second and seventh stanzas. He retired the final nine batters he faced before turning the ball over to the bullpen with one out in the eighth. Evan Voliva worked two-thirds of an inning recording two punch outs, while Ryder Giles faced one batter in the ninth surrendering a hit. Burleson notched his fifth save of the season retiring all three batters he faced with two coming via a strikeout.
Alex Hicks (4-3) took the loss surrendering four runs (two earned) on six hits with two strikeouts in 3.2 innings. Alex Smith worked 3.1 scoreless innings in relief giving up a hit while walking and fanning a pair. Joshua Scheer gave up a run (earned) on two hits in one inning.
Memphis pushed across a run in the third inning pulling within one, 2-1. Kyle Ouellette doubled down the left field line to start the stanza and took third on a passed ball before crossing home on Payton Marshall’s sac bunt.
The Tigers knotted the game at two-all in the fourth on Hunter Goodman’s 12th homer of the season, a shot to left field.
But the Pirates responded with a pair in the home half of the inning pushing their lead back to two, 4-2. Brady Lloyd’s RBI single up the middle scored Turner Brown, who reached on an error to leadoff the frame. Two batters later, Giles RBI ground out to second scored Francisco.
Both teams traded runs in the eighth inning capping the scoring at 5-3.
Six Pirates registered a hit on the night with Francisco (three) and Packard (two) leading the way. Brown, who reached base three times scored a pair of runs, while Francisco drove in and scored one.
Ouellette led the Tigers offensively going 2-for-3 with a runs scored, while Goodman and Colton Neel plated runs.
ECU will look for its eighth sweep of the season and fifth in league play when it plays host to Memphis in the regular season finale on Saturday, May 18 with a 1 p.m. (ET) scheduled first pitch. Fans are encouraged to attend the game as it has been designated as Fan Appreciation Day. Following the contest, the Pirates will celebrate their 2019 AAC regular season championship with the fans.