Pirates Get Over Hump

GREENVILLE, N.C. -- ECU (3-1) compiled 14 hits and got a strong start from freshman Davis Kirkpatrick to snap a two-game losing streak against Campbell, 8-3, Tuesday.

The East Carolina baseball team finally got over the "hump" against the Campbell Camels Tuesday night. After losing both meetings against the Camels in 2013, the Pirates opened their mid-week slate with a comfortable 8-3 victory at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

Freshman right-hander Davis Kirkpatrick recovered from a two-run first inning to toss five solid frames in his collegiate debut. The Pirates' (3-1) bats provided the necessary run support – scoring all eight runs in the first four innings – to aid Kirkpatrick and ease his nerves.

"I came out a little nervous, a little amped up, but I knew I had some great teammates behind me and that they would battle back for me," said Kirkpatrick, who is the son of ECU football's recruiting coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick.

JUCO transfer Ian Townsend and catcher Travis Watkins each drove in three runs apiece at the plate, while Drew Reynolds, Zach Houchins and Ben Fultz all scored twice on the base paths.

Aside from meetings with Campbell (3-1), mid-week games altogether were a thorn in the Pirates' side in 2013. They were just 4-10 in games played on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"We expect to win every time we play," said ECU coach Billy Godwin. "So whether it's mid-week or on the weekend, I breed these guys that every time we put this uniform on we expect to go out and win."

Kirkpatrick's collegiate debut got off to a rocky start in the first inning. Following a fielding error on the game's opening at-bat, the Camels strung together a pair of RBI singles from Kyle Leady and Will Albertson to take an early 2-0 lead.

ECU designated hitter Ian Townsend
(Kat Jessick/InsideECUSports.com)
The Pirates' bats answered in the bottom half of the first with back-to-back singles and a walk to load the bases for Townsend with none away. And following a weekend the Pirates stranded 26 runners on base, Townsend lined a two-run double into the gap in left-centerfield, plating Garrett Brooks and Reynolds.

ECU added two more runs in the frame on an error at shortstop and Watkins' two-out infield single that was lined off Campbell starting pitcher Bobby Thorson. Then, Townsend struck again in the second for his team-best seventh RBI of the young season – scoring Reynolds on a single.

After being given a lead to pitch with, Kirkpatrick settled in – retiring the next nine Campbell batters he faced. It wasn't until the Camels were trailing 6-2 in the top of the fourth that they showed any kind of resistance. They clawed together back-to-back hits – including right fielder Clayton Brown's RBI single – but Kirkpatrick avoided the big inning and kept the opposition at bay.

The Pirates all but put away the Camels in the bottom half of the frame on Watkins' bases-loaded two-RBI single, stretching their lead to 8-3.

"The coaches have been harping on that we get guys on base, we get a lot of hits every game … but we're just not driving the guys in in some key situations," said Watkins. "We had to get some guys to start driving some runs in."

Kirkpatrick closed his first career outing by striking out the top half of the fifth – all looking – before giving way to sophomore Nick Durazo. The slim, six-foot freshman from D.H. Conley High School in Greenville amassed five strikeouts, with no walks, allowed just five hits and two earned runs on 77 pitches.

Durazo got into a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning, but escaped it unscathed – striking out designated hitter Albertson to retire the side. The ECU bullpen has collectively thrown 18 innings this season without surrendering a run.

"If we can keep this streak alive, we're going to be pretty good," said Godwin.

While conducting his post-game interview, Kirkpatrick was given a shaving-cream pie to the face by Brooks. And after taking a moment to wipe the cream off his face, he smiled and said "I'll get them back."

The Pirates will return to action Friday in Charlottesville, Va. to begin a three-game series with the No. 1 ranked Virginia Cavaliers.

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