The East Carolina baseball team was looking to lift itself above .500 for the first time this season Wednesday when they hosted the Liberty Flames. Both teams entered the game with winning streaks and gave the ball to pitchers who were making their first start of the season.
The Pirates started redshirt junior Brett Mabry on the hill while junior Will Martin got the nod for the Flames. Both didn’t last that long.
In the top half of the first inning, Mabry gave up a leadoff hit and a walk that led to a Bryan Andrews sacrifice-fly to score Nick Paxton and put Liberty in front 1-0. Mabry lasted only one inning and the ECU bullpen was never able to find a rhythm.
Behind fourteen hits, including two grand slams, the Flames (5-3) coasted to a 14-4 win at Clark-Leclair Stadium to collect their fifth consecutive win and snap the Pirates’ (3-4) streak at three games. ECU needed 10 pitchers to finish the game that last three hours and fifteen minutes. None of them were able to step up and throw strikes, surrendering nine walks and hitting four batters.
“It stunk,” said Pirates coach Billy Godwin. “When you give up fourteen hits and you give up thirteen free passes, we’re right back to where we were at the first weekend.
Deshorn Lake was the first arm out of the bullpen for ECU, but he only saw two batters. Flames first baseman Alex Close lined a come backer that deflected off Lake’s right throwing hand, and he had to come out of the game.
In the fourth inning, the Pirates brought in freshman right hander Justin Taylor for his first career appearance. Taylor, from nearby Farmville, struck out his first batter then struggled—allowing a single, hitting a batter, and issuing back to back walks. Godwin decided to replace Taylor with Hayden White, but he could not stop the bleeding. Flames catcher Trey Wimmer blasted a grand slam to left field to cap a six run fourth inning.
ECU would get two runs back in the bottom half of the inning with a Chase McDonald RBI single that scored Bryan Bass. Jack Reinheimer would later score after Ben Fultz drew a bases loaded walk. Following the base-on-balls, third baseman Zach Houchins and the Pirates were robbed of an opportunity to get back into the game when Liberty left fielder Nick Lacif made a sensational diving grab to retire the side.
In the eighth frame, the Flames padded their lead even more—crossing seven runs, highlighted by a Ryan Cordell grand slam. The Pirates drove in two more runs in the ninth to close a game they would like to put behind them very quickly.
ECU will have a quick turn around when they host St. Johns for a three game series beginning on Friday at 5 pm at Clark LeClair Stadium. First baseman Chase McDonald is excited to get back on the field as soon as possible.
“I’m glad we got a series this weekend…St Johns is no one to bat an eye at. They’re good too.”