Pirates Capture Keith LeClair Classic Crown

GREENVILLE, N.C. -- ECU (6-5) held on to defeat the Ohio State Buckeyes (7-3) 3-2 Sunday to complete its sweep of Keith LeClair Classic this weekend.

The East Carolina baseball team clinched its second straight Keith LeClair Classic title Sunday against the Ohio State Buckeyes Sunday afternoon.

Pirates' closer Drew Reynolds was on to pitch the ninth inning, protecting a one-run lead with two base-runners in scoring position. Following a line drive that barely landed foul down the first base line, Buckeyes right-fielder Patrick Porter flew out to centerfield to seal ECU's 3-2 victory at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

Reynolds is now the school's all-time saves leader with 27, but more importantly for the Pirates (6-5), they swept this weekend's games after losing four straight prior to the Classic.

"It was really, really special and I thought our guys played well against three really good clubs," said ECU coach Billy Godwin. "It's a huge point of the season for us to come out and get three wins against three really good clubs."

Right-hander Ryan Williams (4-0) relieved freshman Davis Kirkpatrick and tossed 3 2/3 scoreless frames – allowing just one hit – for his fourth win of the season. He notched half of those wins this weekend, while donning the number of the former coach that the tournament is named after.

"The honor of wearing No. 23 is enough, but getting wins for this team is definitely something I'm proud of," Williams said.

Junior Ian Townsend was 3-for-3 at the plate Sunday with an RBI double and a run scored. Including his trio of hits, the Pirates still had just five hits against Ohio State (7-3).

"I'm not concerned. I think we're still having good at-bats," Godwin said of the Pirates' offensive production. "In our game, hitting is so hard that some guys are going to have to step up and carry us and certainly today (Townsend) was big getting three knocks."

Similar to his impressive collegiate debut, Kirkpatrick got into early trouble in his second career start. Ohio State's Troy Kuhn slapped a lead-off triple that eluded a diving Townsend in right field. On the next pitch, first baseman Patrick Porter plated Kuhn with an RBI single to make it 1-0 Buckeyes.

The Pirates answered in the bottom of the second inning. They had the bases loaded with just one out, thanks in part to a fielding error at second base, to set up freshman catcher Eric Tyler, who drew a walk to tie the game.

Kirk Morgan put the Pirates in front, 2-1, on the next at-bat with a fielder's choice that scored Luke Lowery from third base. Townsend added to the lead – 3-1 – in the bottom of the third by ripping an RBI double down the right-field line.

Kirkpatrick's afternoon was finished after he walked a pair of Buckeyes in the top of the fifth inning. In 4 1/3 frames, the freshman right-hander allowed just one run on three hits and walked two batters.

And as he has done several times in the early part of 2014, Williams stepped in and preserved the Pirates' lead for Reynolds heading into the ninth inning.

However, Ohio State did not go away quietly. The Buckeyes led off the ninth with three straight base-hits – including Aaron Gretz' RBI single to trim the deficit to just one run – but Godwin's confidence in his closer never wavered.

"(Reynolds is) a veteran. That's what that is. He's a senior who is not going to get rattled," Godwin said. "That's just who he is. He's not going to out there and get everybody out every day, but his ability to compete is special."

Following a sacrifice bunt to move two runners into scoring position, Reynolds forced the next two Buckeyes into hitting lazy fly-balls; thus securing the win and the saves record.

"It's a tremendous honor, but it's more than just me," said Reynolds of the milestone. "It was just 27 wins I've helped the Pirates get.

Reynolds, a senior right-hander, reached this mark despite pitching just 1.1 frames his freshman year. The record was previously owned by Seth Simmons, who pitched from 2008-2011.

ECU will return to action Wednesday at UNC Greensboro. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.


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