ECU went into this weekend riding strong performances from its bullpen pitchers. Unfortunately, it was the starting staff that led, in part, to the team's downfall. All three starting pitchers—Jeff Hoffman, Reid Love and David Lucroy—were credited with the losses.
Game 1: Virginia 3, ECU 2
Virginia starting pitcher Nathan Kirby allowed two runs (both earned) on four hits in 6.1 innings pitched en route to his second win of the season. Whit Mayberry took over in the sixth and Nick Howard made the save in the ninth. The two combined for 2.2 perfect innings of relief pitching.
Brandon Downes led the team's offensive effort with two solo homeruns, which are his second and third of the young season. His sixth-inning homer proved to be the game-winner in the eventual 3-2 decision.
ECU didn't let the Cavaliers dominate the contest. Zach Houchins plated Reid Love and Garrett Brooks in the top of the third with a single to second base. Ian Townsend struck out swinging to end the inning, though, and stranded two Pirates in the process.
That two-run third inning was the most offense the Diamond Bucs would find. Following that, Virginia held them to a single hit and managed to take the lead on Downes' aforementioned sixth-inning solo homerun.
Game 2: Virginia 4, ECU 0
ECU and Virginia both carried something over into the second game of the series. For the Cavaliers, it was the excellent work of their pitching staff, who threw a shutout this time around. For the Pirates, though, it was offensive struggles that plagued them for all but an inning of Friday's contest.
Josh Sborz started the game and allowed only three hits in five innings pitched. David Rosenberger and Connor Jones each pitched two innings out of the bullpen and gave up a total of four hits.
The Pirates had their fair share of chances. They got on base, but couldn't capitalize to get on the board. They left a total of 10 runners on base throughout the game, including four in the final three innings.
Virginia's offense, on the other hand, was able to make things happen once it got men on base. After notching a single hit between the first and second innings, the Cavaliers exploded with a three-hit, two-run inning to take the lead. They tacked on runs in the fourth and sixth innings to secure the 4-0 shutout win.
Game 3: Virginia 6, ECU 2
Virginia completed the sweep with a 6-2 win. This time around, it was actually ECU's defensive play that couldn't get it done, not the offense.
The Cavaliers scored all six runs in two-out situations. They exploded to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning by way of three hits and a walk. Downes, Derek Fisher, Matt Thaiss and Nate Irving notched four straight RBI base hits.
David Lucroy got pulled from the mound and credited for the loss after just the third inning. Ryan Williams entered to try and revive the Pirates, but didn't find much luck. He managed to hold Virginia's offense to only two runs on six hits in 5.1 innings pitched.
While Williams did his best to keep the Cavaliers at bay, ECU did its best to respond after falling so far behind early on. The Diamond Bucs ended their scoring drought, which dated back to the first game of the series and lasted over 18 innings. Luke Lowery hit a double that allowed Houchins to score and Dylan Brown brought in Lowery. Both runs were scored in a two-out situation.
The Pirates aren't done in Virginia. They'll be looking to recover as they take on VCU in Richmond at 3 p.m. After that, they'll return to Greenville for the Keith LeClair Classic.