Bucs Capture First C-USA Series Win

GREENVILLE, N.C. – ECU (10-10, 3-3 C-USA) captured its first weekend series of conference play by sweeping a doubleheader against the Tulane Green Wave (10-8, 3-3 C-USA) Saturday at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

East Carolina (10-10, 3-3 Conference USA) entered the weekend beset with struggles at the plate – having lost four straight games after its 7-2 loss in Friday's series opener – but got plenty of run support Saturday thanks in large part to two big innings.

Deadlocked in a 2-2 tie in game one of the doubleheader, ECU strung together four consecutive singles in the bottom of the eighth inning that scored three runs. Ryan Williams earned the first of his two wins of the day by striking out to the Tulane ninth to seal a 5-2 victory.

Determined to salvage the series win, the Green Wave (10-8, 3-3 C-USA) jumped out in front 3-0 in the opening two frames of game two. However, the Pirates answered with a half-inning for the record books in the bottom of the second.

ECU hit four home runs – two of which were off the bat of Ian Townsend – in the frame for eight runs to take the wind out of the Green Wave's sail. Freshman Bryce Harman also hit two long balls and behind their five home runs, the Pirates went on to win 13-3 in eight innings to clinch their first weekend series win against Conference USA competition.

"Timely hitting has been what we've been struggling with," said Townsend. "We've been getting the hits. We just haven't been able to put it together with guys in scoring position.

"That second inning really showed that we can do some damage."

Williams earned the win in both games – tossing 8 1/3 combined innings – but the story in game one was ECU starter Reid Love. The junior left-hander was in complete control and had a no-hitter going until Andrew Garner's home run to opposite field broke it up with one away in the seventh inning.

The Green Wave scratched across the tying run with three more hits in the eighth inning – including Richard Carthon's RBI single to score Bowen Woodson – and Love was forced settle for a no decision.

"A win means nothing for me just as long as the Pirates win. That's what I want," Love said. "I tried not to think about (the no-hitter), but when you look up at the scoreboard and (see) all those zeroes, it just pops into your head."

ECU coach Billy Godwin added, "Reid was outstanding, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh, and just kept them off-balance. We couldn't have been in that situation in game one without his effort."

Williams relieved Love in the eighth and and the senior shut the door – striking out each of the four batters he faced.

Sophomore Brett Mabry started the second game of the doubleheader, but did not last long. He allowed four straight singles for two runs in the top of the first and exited with runners on the corners and no outs in the second.

Godwin went back to Williams, who despite being surprised that his number was called again, induced two ground balls to escape the jam.

"(Godwin) called my name, I looked at him and I was kind of relaxing. Then he said go to the bullpen," Williams said," but I was still warm from the last game because of this weather."

Townsend and freshman Harman began the eight-run second inning with back-to-back home runs to right field and later in the frame, Ben Fultz and Townsend (again) each went yard on three-run blasts to stretch ECU's lead to 8-3.

Harman connected with his second solo shot in the bottom of the seventh for the Pirates' fifth homer of the game. The last time ECU hit that many in a game was Nov. 23, 2011 at Houston.

As for Williams, he threw eight scoreless innings in game two for his second win on the same day, which was unfathomable for the senior right-hander going into the day.

"It was something we were joking after the first game but I didn't think there was any chance of it happening," said Williams.

The Pirates will return to action Wednesday when they host Virginia Commonwealth, who has already beaten ECU 3-0 on Feb. 25. However, that game was played in Richmond. First pitch from Clark-LeClair Stadium is set for 6 p.m.

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