Pirates winless in CUSA opener

ECU baseball lost every game in the weekend's three-game series against Houston.

Pirate baseball (11-13, 0-3) has lost five straight, and eight of its last ten games, after being swept by the No. 28 Houston Cougars in a three-game series to open Conference USA play.

ECU's road record dropped to 2-6 after the trip to Cougar Field, which concluded with a 5-4 Pirate loss in extra innings on Sunday afternoon. The teams were tied at three at the top of the tenth inning when Dylan Brown hit a leadoff home run to give the Pirates a 4-3 advantage. The home run was the second for Brown in the series.

The Cougars responded with an RBI single from Kyle Survance to tie the game in the bottom of the tenth, then a sac fly by Jacob Campbell to send Justin Montemayor home for the win.

David Lucroy put up an impressive seven innings of work on the mound for the Pirates, only allowing one run on four hits with four walks and eight strikeouts. Drew Reynolds (0-1) was credited with the loss after allowing three runs on five hits and two walks in 2.1 innings of work.

Ben Fultz and Brown led the Pirates at the plate, with both hitting 2-for-4 with an RBI. Travis Watkins had two hits in three attempts.

ECU opened up with two runs in the first inning to take an early lead. The lead stretched to 3-0 in the fifth when Jack Reinheimer hit an RBI fielder's choice to third. Houston fought back just in time, scoring two runs in the eighth before Houston's Landon Appling hit an RBI single to tie the game at three.

The Pirates dropped another one-run game the night before, falling 4-3 to allow Houston to take the series. ECU entered the fifth inning trailing 2-0 before Chase McDonald hit a solo home run to pull within one. The home run was the second of the season for McDonald.

But Houston responded again, this time scoring two more runs by loading the bases in the bottom of the fifth. The Cougars scored on a passed ball and a fielder's choice RBI, both with the bases loaded to take the 4-1 lead.

ECU was down to one last chance to win in the top of the ninth. Fultz scored Reinheimer with the bases loaded, then McDonald hit a sac fly to score Brown. But the Pirates couldn't find the tying run to lose their second straight to Houston.

Ryan Williams (4-1) was credited with his first loss of the season, completing 6.1 innings and allowing four runs on seven hits. McDonald led the team with two RBIs, while three Pirates recorded multi-hit games (Reinheimer, Brown and Jay Cannon). In the first game of the series ECU couldn't find any answers, falling 7-2 to open the series Friday evening. The Pirates didn't record a hit until the fifth inning, already trailing 3-0, but were able to load the bases in an attempt to cut the lead. Cannon grounded out to score an ECU runner, but the Pirates ended the inning trailing 3-1.

In the same inning, the Cougars blew the game open. The lead stretched to 7-1 as Houston tallied five hits in the bottom of the fifth. The final run of the game came in the eighth inning when ECU's Brown hit a solo home run.

ECU pitcher Jeff Hoffman (2-3) was credited with the loss after allowing seven runs on eleven hits with two walks and only one strikeout in 4.1 innings of work. The relief pitchers, Dyland Dickens (two hits and two walks in 1.2 innings) and Brett Maybry (no hits and a strikeout in two innings), faired much better.

Houston (21-4, 3-0) leaves the series on a ten-game winning streak. The Pirates will search for a much needed victory when they face the William & Mary Tribe on Tuesday, March 26, at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

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