CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – East Carolina advanced into the winner’s bracket at the NCAA Charlottesville Regional Friday night, turning aside Oklahoma 14-5 in its tournament opener at Davenport Field.
The Pirates (46-17) will face No. 7 national seed and host Virginia Saturday at 6 p.m. for the right to move into the regional final while the Sooners (31-27) are set to battle Army in an elimination game at Noon.
In its first-ever meeting with Oklahoma on the baseball diamond, ECU unleashed a 15-hit barrage and scored in every inning but the first. Joey Berini paced all players with four hits while Carter Cunningham went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI. Dakota Harris and Easton Carmichael both picked up a pair of hits for the Sooners.
Pirate ace Trey Yesavage (7-1) was as good as advertised, collecting the win on the mound after allowing one run (unearned) with seven strikeouts in 5.1 innings of work. He finished the evening with 105 strikeouts for the campaign, tying for 10th on the program single-season chart. East Carolina handed Braden Carmichael (7-1) his first loss of the year as the southpaw surrendered four runs (three earned) on four hits with a season-high five walks in 2.2 frames.
Yesavage set Oklahoma down in order in the top of the first before Jacob Starling pounded a leadoff double off the wall in left-center in the home half. Josh Moylan was able to draw a one-out walk, but Carmichael responded with a strikeout and grounder to third to terminate the threat. The Sooners tried to capitalize with a pair of one-out singles in the top of the second, but Yesavage was unfazed, retiring Jackson Nicklaus via the strikeout and coaxing a pop-up to third out of Wallace Clark.
ECU broke onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the second. Berini got things going with a sharp single to left center before Alec Makarewicz and Lane Hoover worked consecutive walks to load the bases. Starling stayed patient, drawing a free pass of his own to plate Berini, and Cunningham followed with a sac fly to leave the Pirates in front 2-0 moving to the third.
The Pirates kept the pressure on in the bottom of the third as Cam Clonch delivered a leadoff walk and Jacob Jenkins-Cowart shot a single to right field. A fly ball to center moved Clonch over to third and he would cross home on an infield single off the bat of Berini to make it 3-0. A fielding error at short brought home East Carolina’s fourth run in the form of Jenkins-Cowart who scampered home from second in the miscue.
The offensive onslaught continued in the fourth frame. Cunningham and Moylan both singled to begin the inning and settled on the corners. A textbook Clonch sacrifice bunt scored Cunningham for a 5-0 Pirate advantage before Justin Wilcoxen belted a 1-1 pitch well over the wall in right to extend the lead to 7-0.
Cunningham and Moylan were at it again in the fifth with Cunningham adding a two-run double to his account and Moylan scoring Cunningham with a two-bagger of his own to put ECU into double figures in the run column.
The Pirates never let the Sooners back into the contest, responding every time Oklahoma put something on the scoreboard. Both sides netted three runs over the sixth and seventh frames while the Sooners delayed the inevitable in the top of the ninth with two consolation runs. Carmichael would eventually ground out to short to end the game.