CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Another comeback in game one followed by a fast start in game two led East Carolina to a doubleheader sweep on Saturday to take all three games in a Conference USA weekend series with Charlotte. The Pirates scored eight unanswered runs in the opener scoring an 8-5 win while jumping on the board with three in the first of game two leading to a 5-2 victory to complete the sweep.
GAME ONE: EAST CAROLINA 8, CHARLOTTE 5
Charlotte (3-16-1, 0-9 C-USA) started scoring in game one by putting together their best offensive inning of the season in the bottom of the fourth. Derek Gallello started the frame with a single to right becoming the first of six-straight Niners to reach with a hit. Zach Jarrett followed with a single to left before T.J. Nichting doubled to center to score Gallello with the first of five runs.
Logan Sherer followed with a double down the left-field line two pitches later to score both Jarrett and Nichting for a 3-0 lead. After Des Roberts singled to left, Corbin Shive lined a base hit to left-center scoring Sherer for the fourth tally. The final run of the fourth came in as Mikal Hill lifted a sacrifice fly to left-center that brought home Roberts with the fifth and final run.
East Carolina (13-11, 6-3 C-USA) wasted no time in getting all five runs back in the top of the fifth, all unearned, taking advantage of a Charlotte miscue to knot the contest at 5-5. Hunter Allen began the frame with an infield single back to the mound before Drew Reynolds reached with one out on a fielding error at short. The Pirates would soon take advantage of the mistake as Zach Houchins singled to left before Ian Townsend’s sacrifice fly to left plated Allen.
Bryce Harman followed with an infield single to short setting the table for Ben Fultz. With the bases loaded, Fultz lined a 0-1 pitch down the left-field line to clear the bases and bring East Carolina to within one at 5-4. Two pitches later, Luke Lowery brought in Fultz with a single to left squaring the contest 5-5.
The Pirates would grab a 6-5 lead in the seventh using a Fultz RBI single to left-center before adding another run in the eighth on a two-out single back up the box by Reynolds to score Charlie Yorgen. ECU’s final run would come in the ninth as Eric Tyler singled up the middle to score Townsend.
Fultz led East Carolina in the opener with three hits in five plate appearances with a game-high four RBI. The Pirates out-hit Charlotte 13-9 in game one. Gallello and Sherer would each collect a pair of Niner hits in the loss with Sherer adding two runs driven in.
Brett Mabry (2-1) picked up the win in relief for the Pirates tossing 3.1 innings while scattering just three hits. Reynolds would toss the final 2.2 frames coming out of his DH role not allowing a hit with a strikeout to earn his fourth save.
GAME 2: EAST CAROLINA 5, CHARLOTTE 2
East Carolina struck quickly in game two posting a three-spot on the board in the top of the first. Houchins kept the inning alive with a two-out single up the middle before Townsend pushed him to second with a walk. Harman would then pick up an infield single to short as Houchins would score on a throwing error in the same sequence leading to ECU’s first run. Fultz followed again continuing his Saturday tear with a two-run triple down the right-field line.
The Pirates would add a couple of more two-out runs in the third to extend the lead out to five. Fultz delivered again with a run-scoring double to right plating Townsend before Tyler’s double scored Fultz on the next pitch.
Charlotte got on the board with a pair of runs in the eighth to slice the deficit down to three. Des Roberts and Mikal Hill each collected singles in the inning and moved up 90 feet on an ECU wild pitch. With Brett Lang at the plate, Roberts would tally the first run on a passed ball by Tyler behind the dish. Brad Elwood would later knock in Hill with a single to right on a 3-2 pitch.
Fultz was nearly unstoppable in Saturday’s twinbill adding two more hits and three RBI to his daily total. Fultz finished the double dip a combined 5-for-9 with a triple, two doubles and seven runs driven in. David Lucroy (1-3) got the win for ECU in the nightcap tossing seven innings of one-hit ball striking out five. Gallello, Roberts, Hill and Elwood each had a hit for Charlotte in game two.
“We did a lot of good things offensively, we just made a couple of mistakes and let them back in,” Head Coach Loren Hibbs commented in reference to game one. “It’s frustrating from the standpoint that I see that our guys continue to compete. We’ve been competitive in just about every game we’ve played this year. It seems like it’s something different happening in every game.”
Charlotte will now look towards a pair of midweek games, weather permitting, traveling to Winthrop for the first of two visits with the Eagles on Tuesday night before hosting UNC Asheville on Wednesday. Both first pitches are slated for 6:00 p.m.