GREENVILLE, N.C. – Garrett Saylor tossed a career-high four scoreless innings and the No. 9 East Carolina offense pounded out 11 hits in an 11-5 series-clinching win over Illinois State Saturday at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium. With the win the Pirates improve to 15-3 overall, while the Redbirds fall to 5-11.
Trailing 5-3 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, ECU scored three runs to take its first lead of the game, 6-5, and would go on and scoring three more in the seventh and two in the eighth. Thomas Francisco and Josh Moylan drew consecutive walks to start the stanza and moved up on a wild pitch. Alec Makarewicz plated them both with his second hit of the day, a two-run double to right-center tying the game at five-all. With two away in the frame, Zach Agnos laced a single to center plating Makarewicz for the go-ahead run.
Saylor (1-0) allowed just one base runner to reach via a walk and struck out five getting a pair in the sixth and eighth frames. Starter Jake Kuchmaner gave up five runs (three earned) on nine hits with a walk in five-plus innings.
Erik Kubiatowicz (0-1) took the loss after surrendering three runs (all earned) on three hits with a walk and a strikeout in one inning of relief. Jordan Lussier was touched for three runs (all earned) on six hits while walking two and striking out three in his five-inning start. The Redbirds also got outings from Josh Dima (0.0 IP, 2 Rs, 2 BBs), Jared Hart (1.0 IP, 1 R, 1 K), Connor Peplow (0.1 IP, 2 Rs, 2 BBs, 1 K) and Jackson Bronke (0.2 IP, 2 Ks).
For the second-straight game, ISU took an early lead as the scored a pair of unearned runs in the first inning, 2-0. Aidan Huggins reached on an error, took second on a wild pitch and moved to third on a fly ball. Jordan Libman’s RBI base hit back up the middle plated Huggins for the game’s first run. Libman would later score on a fielder’s choice.
Jack Butler’s sac fly in the third extended the Redbirds lead to 3-0. Libman drew a one-out walk, took third on Tyson Hays’ single to right before crossing home on Buter’s fly ball to right field.
ECU finally got on the board in the home half of the fourth scoring a pair of runs and cutting the lead to 3-2. With two-away, Makarewicz walked which was followed by Seth Caddell’s team-leading seventh homer, a two-run shot to right field.
Connor Norby’s sac fly in the fifth tied the game at three. Agnos doubled to shallow right field and took third on Ryder Giles’ sac bunt before scoring on Norby’s deep fly ball to right field.
ISU answered with two of its own in the top of the sixth pulling ahead, 5-3, as the first four batters of the frame all reached. Butler and Ryan Cermak reached base on infield single back to Kuchmaner. Gunner Peterson followed with an RBI single to right scoring Butler and pushing Cermak to third. After an ECU pitching change, Luke Cheng walked loading the bases before a Saylor wild pitch plated Cermak.
ECU would pour it on in the seventh and eighth stanzas scoring five runs and capping the scoring at 11-5. Moylan’s fourth home run of the season accounted for the tallies in the seventh, a three-run shot to left. With the bases juiced in the eighth, Francisco was plunked scoring Giles and Norby would cross home later on a wild pitch.
Seven of the Pirates starting nine in the batting order accounted for all 11 hits with Agnos, Makarewicz, Moylan and Norby recording two each. Moylan led the club with three RBI, while Caddell and Makarewicz drove in a pair. The 11 events for ECU marked the 12th time they reached double-digits.
ECU and Illinois State will close out the three-game set Sunday, March 21 with an 11:30 a.m. scheduled first pitch and will be streamed on ESPN+.
For the second game in a row the Redbirds scored first plating a pair in the initial frame … It marked the sixth time this season ECU’s opponent scored first, but they have a 5-1 record when that happens … Under seventh-year head coach Cliff Godwin, the Pirates are 71-74 when their opponents score first …
Norby extended his on-base streak to 25 games dating back to last season with his leadoff double in the first inning … He tallied a pair of hits pushing his season total to a team-best 13 in 18 contests (22 for his career) …
Francisco’s on-base streak moved to 18 games on his single in the first inning …
With the win, the Pirates have now won all five weekend series they have played …