The 11th ranked ECU baseball team can do no wrong right now. Head coach Cliff Godwin’s every decision turns into the correct one at some point or another. This is what it looks like when a team is simply rolling.
ECU coasted to a 10-7 road win over Old Dominion on Wednesday. The score made the game seem closer than it really was, but it was 10-2 going into the final inning before ODU racked up five quick runs with two home runs on a freshman pitcher. Enough to make ECU sweat, but never really putting the outcome of the game in real question.
This win marks six straight wins for the Pirates since being swept by UCLA. ECU (31-10) is firing on all cylinders going into an important weekend series with Tulane, a matchup of the top two teams in the AAC. ECU leads the conference at 11-1 while Tulane is 8-3.
ECU also went 2-0 in its midweek games this week, defeating UNCW 8-5 on Tuesday night at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
“I was really worried about these two games. Yesterday was a big rivalry and a four-and-a-half hour game basically. We were turning around quickly after an emotional win and got on the bus and drove two-and-a-half hours.” Godwin told Hoist the Colours. “I was worried about the lull, the let-down. I thought Burleson gave us a great start and what Gavin Williams did, I thought that was the difference.”
It was another one of Godwin’s staff days, as has become the norm for midweek games. This one, like others, worked out well. Alec Burleson got the start and pitched four innings, giving up just three hits and one run on a solo shot. That was actually Burleson’s longest outing since he pitched five innings against Utah on Mar. 1 in the LeClair Classic.
He was replaced by Evan Odum. Odum struggled, giving up three straight singles and leaving without getting anyone out. So Godwin’s next decision worked out for him.
Gavin Williams took over for him with the bases loaded and nobody out in a 5-1 game and steadied ECU during a pivotal point in the game. He allowed a sacrifice fly to the first hitter he faced to make it 5-2. Williams then managed to get the next two batters out to get ECU out of the jam relatively unharmed.
“Gavin was the MVP tonight. Coming in with the bases loaded and no outs and giving up one run was huge,” Godwin told Hoist the Colours.
Lane Hoover made an incredible diving catch on the sacrifice fly to prevent much more damage from happening.
Williams would go on to pitch through two more innings without giving up any more runs. Cam Colmore pitched 0.2 innings without a hiccup, but Carter Spivey had a very rough outing in his 1.0 innings pitched. Spivey gave up five runs in the ninth inning by way of a grand slam and a solo home run two batters later.
Spivey had not pitched since Mar. 2 when he also struggled by allowing three runs without recording an out against Wright State in the LeClair Classic. He struggled so much so that Godwin had to turn to Garrett Saylor (0.1) to finish off the final out. Saylor retired the only batter he faced.
“(Garrett Saylor) hasn’t pitched hardly in a month and he’s coming in there and pounding the zone with three pitches. He will be able to pitch more for us now because that was a huge situation,” Godwin told Hoist the Colours.
ECU totaled 12 hits as a team, and six different players drove in at least one run. Hoover had one of the more impressive individual impacts, with a diving catch in the field as well as going 3-for-4 at the plate. Jake Washer also went 2-for-3 with two RBI.
“The ball wasn’t flying out of here today so it was easier to shorten up, let it get deeper and try to shoot it the other way,” Washer told Hoist the Colours.
It was just the second time this season that Hoover totaled three hits in a game. He also went 3-for-4 (with two RBI) against Utah on Mar. 1 during the LeClair Classic.
ECU scored first in the third inning on a Dusty Baker RBI double and then a throwing error by ODU that allowed Brady Lloyd to reach base and Baker to score. The Pirates tacked on two more runs in the fourth inning as Jake Washer lined an RBI single to score Turner Brown. Bryant Packard was then hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to make it 4-0.
ODU got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning with a Will Morgan solo home run. Only the third hit of the game allowed by Burleson up to that point.
Washer repeated his previous at-bat when he drove home Brown with an RBI single once again in the fifth inning to push the Pirate lead back out to four runs.
ECU broke the game open late in the eighth inning. Ryder Giles roped a two-run single to score Hoover and Christian Jayne. Brickhouse followed that up with a two-run single of his own. Brown then laid down a sac bunt to score Nick Barber and cap off the five-run inning for ECU.
ODU made it close with the five-run ninth inning, using a grand slam and a solo shot with two outs left in the inning to cut the lead to three before faltering.
The first pitch between ECU and Tulane on Friday comes at 6:30 p.m. ECU Athletics has been vocal about trying to break the attendance record during Friday night’s game.