After No. 11 ECU’s 8-2 win over AAC foe Tulane on Saturday stretched the winning streak to eight games and gave them yet another conference series win, head coach Cliff Godwin said that while they’ve done well so far it can all go away like “that” with a snap of his fingers.
That came to fruition on Sunday as ECU (33-11, 13-2 AAC) suffered a 9-8 loss in a back-and-forth game against Tulane (27-16, 9-5 AAC) to just miss sweeping the weekend series. ECU’s 14-game home winning streak ends and so does its eight-game winning streak along with it.
“Our guys competed and that’s the staple of our program. They made a couple of pitches when our guys didn’t make a couple of pitches. We didn’t get a couple of guys in from third base with less than two outs and that was the difference in the game,” Godwin told Hoist the Colours.
“Their offense was really good and for two days, we held them to two runs. I knew that wasn’t going to be the case for the entire weekend. They had some tough at-bats against our relievers.”
The Pirates won’t get a chance to restart that home winning streak for a while, as they travel to Cincinnati next weekend and play their next seven games on the road before returning home on May. 14 against Campbell.
It looked as if ECU would run away with another blowout, getting out to a 5-0 lead. But the Green Wave responded with nine unanswered runs of their own. The Pirates fought back with multiple rally attempts late in the game but couldn’t overcome the deficit.
ECU had the bases loaded in the eighth inning with just one out, but Spencer Brickhouse struck out and Alec Burleson flew out to end the threat. The Pirates had another chance, with the winning run on base in the ninth inning. Ryder Giles grounded into a double play to end the game, leaving Bryant Packard waiting on deck.
Packard finished the game 3-for-5 for ECU, and Burleson was 2-for-5 with five RBI on the day.
“It sucks, but I have full trust in Ryder Giles of course. He’s a freshman, huge spot for him. He executed the plan, hit the ball up the middle, that’s what we wanted to do off that guy. They were pinching a little bit up the middle for the double play and got us. But yeah, I was itching for the at-bat,” Packard told Hoist the Colours.
Tulane, widely known to have one of the best offenses in the country, was dormant through the first two games in the series and only scored two runs. They were shutout for the first time in the season on Friday.
The Green Wave offense got rolling against Tyler Smith, who gave up four runs on six hits over 5.0 innings of work. He started the sixth but was pulled after an RBI double. Evan Voliva came in but gave up three runs and only got two outs.
The Pirates then turned to Gavin Williams, who got out of the sixth inning but gave up two runs and got no outs in the seventh before ECU had to go to Burleson. Burleson threw 2.0 scoreless innings of relief in addition to hitting the big three-run home run in the seventh inning to put ECU within one run of the lead. Cam Colmore then threw a scoreless ninth inning to keep ECU in striking distance.
The Pirates scored first for the third straight game in the series. Brickhouse singled home Packard in the first inning. The Pirates then got four runs in the third inning on a Burleson two-run single, a Thomas Francisco RBI single and a Brady Lloyd RBI groundout.