The first pitch of the at-bat was greeted by a hearty swing of the bat and the ball skyrocketed off the bat, right onto the practice football field past the right field fence. A prompt flip of the bat said what everyone already knew: this was a no-doubter home run. It was not the first time ECU first baseman Spencer Brickhouse had done this before, heck, not even the first time this game.
Brickhouse (3-for-4) launched two home runs, drove in five runs and his display of power on Saturday led No. 12 ECU to a 9-7 win to easily take the second game of the doubleheader against No. 18 UConn. The win also led ECU (29-10, 11-1) to the series sweep of its AAC foe.
“It was a good day. Started out as a rough week in some places and I haven’t been swinging the bat so well,” Brickhouse said. “So it was good to come out in that last game and hit those two home runs to get things going.”
It was certainly an improvement upon Brickhouse’s 0-for-2 showing in the first game of the doubleheader.
“That is baseball and that is life when it comes down to you are going to have good times and have bad times. You have to just ride out the good times and the bad times, and keep on playing the game.”
Brickhouse grounded out in his first at-bat of the game in the first inning, the only time the Huskies would be able to retire him all game. His next at-bat in the third inning resulted in his first home run of the game, a three-run home run to erase ECU’s two-run deficit and make it a one-run lead.
Brickhouse followed it up with the no-doubter two-run home run in the fifth inning that left Clark-LeClair Stadium. The home runs were Nos. 10 and 11 on the season, and 30 and 31 on his Pirate career.
“I’m just glad he got some swings off. People pitch him so tough along with Packard and Burleson. They don’t get many pitches to hit like that, but when they get them normally they do damage. And he did damage,” ECU head coach Cliff Godwin said.
Speaking of not the first time he’s done this before? It was the third time in Brickhouse’s career he homered in back-to-back at-bats. The junior has done it once every year of his career actually. He did so as a freshman in 2017 against College of Charleston and again last season against Cincinnati.
“It comes down to going up there and trying to stay relaxed and trying to do damage to the ball. Me being a big guy, I feel like personally if I get singles it’s not going to do too much for the team. I try to drive in runs and what coach tried to beat into my head as a freshman is that I’m a run producer, so I need to go up there and fill that role,” Brickhouse said.
Jake Washer and Chandler Jenkins each contributed solo home runs for the Pirates as well.
While both starters struggled in the first game, ECU’s Tyler Smith started well and had given up just two runs (one earned) in 5.1 innings of work. But Smith was taken out with two runners on and Alec Burleson was greeted by a two-run double (both runs credited to Smith.)
And while ECU’s bullpen held UConn in check in game one, it struggled in game two. Burleson would go on to pitch 0.2 innings and Gavin Williams followed him with 2.0 scoreless innings. Ryder Giles struggled with the ninth inning, giving up only a leadoff home run before Zach Barnes came in and promptly gave up a two-run home run to cut the lead to two.
Barnes finally got the final hitter out (although on a hard line-drive to Packard in left field) and ECU escaped before it ever got too close.
There was a seven-minute delay in the top of the first inning to see if a UConn batter was hit on the hand or the bat. Umpires discussed it for awhile first and eventually went to review it before making the decision that the batter was hit. Godwin was furious the hitter was granted first base and yelled at every umpire on the field on his way back to the dugout.
ECU outfielder Bryant Packard was hit to open the bottom half of the inning.
After that, things went largely similar to the first game of the day as UConn scored first again in the top of the third inning. The Huskies had runners at the corners and grounded to third baseman Nick Barber who threw over to Brady Lloyd but Lloyd made an error on the throw to first base and the run scored instead of an inning-ending double play.
That proved doubly costly, as the runner was able to move to second when the throw skipped into the dugout. He scored as the next batter singled to center field to make it 2-0.
Once again, ECU responded with three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Packard singled to lead off the inning, moved to second on a wild pitch and stole third base. Hoover walked and Brickhouse skied a home run to right field to make it 3-2.
Washer followed that up with a slicing solo home run to right-center in the fourth inning to make it 4-2 ECU.
UConn brought in closer Jacob Wallace, who has been great this season by only allowing one run in 23.0 innings pitched coming in, for the first time of the series. Wallace was met by a Washer double and a Lloyd bunt that Wallace threw away when trying to get Washer out at third base. Washer went in to score for an insurance run and Lloyd was granted second base after colliding with the UConn first baseman.
Packard came through with a sacrifice fly to score Lloyd and give ECU a four-run cushion. Jenkins then pinch hit and launched his first home run of the season.