After coming out of the gate hot on Friday, ECU had to fight through a rough start on Saturday to once again win a tough game against AAC foe UCF. A three-run home run from Spencer Brickhouse in the fifth inning gave ECU a 5-3 lead that it wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way to a 7-4 win.
ECU (17-6, 2-0 AAC) now gets the series win in its conference opener against UCF (15-8, 0-2 AAC) and will look for the series sweep Sunday at noon.
UCF struck first with first-inning runs again. On Friday night, UCF took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first and followed it up Saturday with a three-run first inning. On Friday ECU was able to respond however, putting up 10 runs in the next three innings. On Saturday ECU didn’t get out the gate as well, not recording a hit even until Brady Lloyd’s single in the third inning.
Lloyd’s single broke the dam for the offense though, as ECU got on the board in the third inning. Bryson Worrell laid a sac bunt down and UCF erred on the throw that allowed Lloyd to get to third. Then Ryder Giles laid down another sac bunt that scored Lloyd. Bryant Packard followed it with an RBI single. Then came the Brickhouse bomb in the fifth.
“(UCF starter Grant Schuermann) was very good and very crafty. He had a very good changeup and that was something I was sitting on because coach told me before I got up there to get up in the box and make sure I was sitting on that pitch. Early in the game, he was getting me off-balance with it, but he just hung one and it gave us three runs to give us a little push to win the game,” Brickhouse said.
ECU starter Tyler Smith’s final line: 4.2 innings, three runs allowed (all in first inning), one walk, and one strikeout. Smith didn’t allow a hit after the rough first inning.
“Really proud of Tyler Smith. He could have folded camp and we would have had to go to the bullpen a lot earlier. But he managed it, kept us in the game and really allowed the offense to keep their feet underneath them,” ECU head coach Cliff Godwin said.
After the first inning, ECU’s pitching was great. The bullpen was clutch time and time again Saturday, and it started with reliever Zach Barnes. Barnes came in with runners on second and third and got a strikeout to get out of the inning. Gavin Williams pitched well for 2.0 innings before getting in trouble, when Evan Voliva comes in to get them out of a no out and runners on second and third jam in the eighth inning by giving up just one run. Voliva then pitched a scoreless ninth inning to close the game.
“It just speaks volumes of our pitching staff to be able to hold them down the whole game after that,” Voliva said.
ECU closed the game out with insurance runs for the second game in a row. On Friday night, Dusty Baker’s first career home run pushed the lead to 12-8 and ECU would get one more run to make it 13-8. Saturday, ECU lead 5-4 going into the eighth inning and a Alec Burleson RBI double and Turner Brown RBI single tacked on two more runs to make it 7-4.
- It was a season-high for attendance, with 4,128 people coming to Clark-LeClair Stadium for the afternoon game.
“I really appreciated the fans today and there was some big-time momentum, especially when they brought their reliever in and that allowed us to get a couple runs,” Godwin said.
- Williams is the usual midweek starter for ECU but with no midweek games coming up anytime soon, he was available out of the Pirates bullpen.
- Brickhouse has been on a tear of late, with a hit in 11 of the last 12 ECU games and hovering around a .400 batting average for the season.