After an easy-going win in the series opener, ECU did something it hasn’t done since 2001 by winning against USF on Saturday and Sunday as well behind big production from the big bats in the lineup.
ECU (21-6, 6-0 AAC) completed its fourth consecutive weekend sweep over USF (12-14, 1-5 AAC) by wins of 13-7 and 5-1.
It’s the first time since 2001 that ECU has began conference play 6-0.
It was actually the first time ECU has even gotten a series win over USF since the two teams joined the AAC, and first series win period since 2005. That’s now nine straight wins for the Pirates, who stays undefeated in conference play, while USF has lost seven out of its last eight games.
Bryant Packard powered the Pirate offense more than anyone by hitting grand slams in back-to-back games. Alec Burleson hit a solo home run in Saturday and Sunday’s games as well, and Thomas Francisco and Spencer Brickhouse each added solo homers on Saturday.
Packard’s first grand slam on Saturday broke open what was a close game before. ECU went into the sixth inning trailing 4-3. The Pirates had taken a 5-4 lead by the time Packard launched the ball over the fence and made it a 9-4 Pirates lead. Packard’s second grand slam of the series on Sunday broke open a scoreless game in the second inning.
Burleson’s first solo home run came in the fourth inning on Saturday and was followed up by Francisco’s home run in the same inning. Burleson also singled home a run in the first inning on Saturday. Burleson’s fourth home run of the season came in the fifth inning on Sunday to increase the ECU lead to 5-0.
Brickhouse’s solo shot came in the seventh inning after Packard’s grand slam. That made the score 10-4 and both teams added three more runs a piece in the late innings.
ECU’s pitching was good in both games as well. Tyler Smith started on Saturday and pitched 5.0 innings and allowing four runs. Zach Barnes gave up one run in 2.0 innings and Burleson and Evan Voliva each pitched one inning. On Sunday, Jake Kuchmaner got the start and threw 5.1 innings with one run allowed.
Gavin Williams finished the last 3.2 innings and even got some revenge on USF hitter Joe Genord. Genord pimped a home run off of Williams last season in Greenville, which contributed to some bad blood between the two teams. Williams struck out Genord in the seventh inning on Sunday.
That bad blood contributed to some back-and-forth talking between Packard and some USF players while rounding the bases after his grand slam.
After last weekend’s series sweep over UCF, when Knight’s players oddly were kicking the visiting dugout trash can, USF fans gifted a custom trash can as a gesture to ECU.
Sunday was also the last day of March, bringing an end to the annual Mustache March. ECU teamed up with Memphis and Michigan this year in hopes of raising $10,000 toward ALS research.
ECU returns home to Clark-LeClair for a Wednesday matchup with in-state rival Duke. Duke is coming off of being swept by rival UNC and is just 14-14
The Blue Devils defeated ECU 7-2 in Durham back on Mar. 12 but has gone 2-9 since then. Gavin Williams got the start that day and gave up five