HOUSTON, TEXAS – No. 8 East Carolina dropped the final game of its opening American Athletic Conference series of the season at Houston by a 6-4 score Sunday afternoon at Schroeder Park.
The Pirates fall to 20-8 overall and 1-2 in AAC play while the Cougars improve to 14-14 and 2-1.
East Carolina produced an early scoring chance in the top of the second as Alec Makarewicz walked and moved to second on a wild pitch with one out, but Jose Torrealba tallied a strikeout and induced a fly ball to left to retire the side.
As it did in the previous two games in the series, Houston took an early advantage via a solo home run off the bat of Brandon Burckel in the home half of the third inning. A two-out Pirate fielding error in the bottom of the fifth proved costly as with two on, Zach Arnold golfed a 1-0 pitch over the wall in left to give the home side a 3-0 advantage.
Jacob Starling got the offense going in the top of the sixth, leading off the frame with solo bomb to left before Luke Nowak reached on an infield single. A groundout put Nowak at second and pinch hitter Joey Berini shot a single through the right side to plate Nowak and make it a 3-2 affair.
A Jacob Jenkins-Cowart double with one away in the top of the seventh was followed by a Josh Moylan walk. A groundout moved the runners into scoring position for Nowak who laced a double to the wall in left center to score both and propel ECU ahead 4-3. The upper hand would be short lived, however, as Alex Lopez knocked a three-run home run off the foul pole in left to put his club ahead by two. That proved the difference as the Pirates were unable to score in the eighth or ninth frames.
East Carolina plays host to NC State Tuesday evening in a non-conference contest televised by ESPNU. First pitch at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium is set for 5:30 p.m.