Weekend Roundup: Rice

East Carolina (19-13, 8-4 Conference-USA) rebounds from its loss to North Carolina State with a big series win at Rice (22-12, 10-5 C-USA).

East Carolina (19-13, 8-4 Conference-USA) won two close games on Friday and Sunday to claim a series win over No. 12 Rice. With that, the Pirates have now won four straight series.

Both wins seemed to be mirror images of one another. Both featured strong showings from the pitching staff that kept Rice's offense at bay. ECU's offense would explode with two-run showings in the ninth innings of both wins, too.

Jeff Hoffman (2-3) started on the mound in Friday's 3-2 victory. He earned his second win of the season after giving up a single earned run on seven hits in eight innings of work. He struck out seven Rice batters and had at least one punch out in six of the eight innings he pitched.

With the game tied at 1-1, Drew Reynolds stepped up to bat. In the top of the ninth with two outs, he singled up the middle to plate Eric Tyler and Charlie Yorgen. Yorgen and Tyler both got on base by getting hit by pitches. Yorgen got in scoring position via a sac-bunt by Garrett Brooks. Shortly after, Tyler advanced to second base on Hunter Allen's base-hit single.

Ryan Williams relieved Hoffman in the bottom of the ninth. Despite giving up hits to the first two Owls to take the plate, Williams was able to hold Rice scoreless and secure the win.

ECU wasn't able to carry the momentum into Saturday's game. Despite notching seven hits—three of which were from Reynolds. That would be all the offense the Pirates would muster, though.

Rice jumped to a 1-0 lead early on. The Owls notched three hits and Kirby Taylor opened the scoring with an RBI sac-fly. That run would prove to be the winning run, too, as ECU wouldn't recover from Rice taking an early lead.

The Owls wouldn't stop there, though. They added four more runs in the bottom of the third. They had four hits, but ECU didn't do itself any favors either. A fielding error resulted in a run and allowed another Owl to get in scoring position.

Starting pitcher Reid Love was chased after that four-run showing from showing. In 2.2 innings, Love had given up five runs (all earned) on eight hits. Brett Mabry came in and did his best to hold off the Owls. He managed to hold them to six hits, but an error in the eighth would award Rice a trio of unearned run.

The Pirates would win another close game to take the series. Once again, Rice jumped ahead to an early one-run lead. A two-hit performance in the third inning resulted in a run, but Rice wouldn't have a chance to add on to its lead. David Lucroy pitched the first 4.1 innings and gave up those two hits and earned run in the third, but only gave up one hit other than that.

Ryan Williams came in and pitched the last 4.2 innings, in addition to the inning he pitched on Friday. He'd give up three hits and no runs, which gave ECU the opportunity to make a comeback.

ECU, for the second time in a weekend, scored twice in the top of the ninth. After getting two outs to lead off the inning, Ian Townsend doubled to right field. Dylan Brown would hit an RBI double, also to right field, shortly after. Tyler notched the game-winning hit with an RBI single that plated Joshua Lovick, who was pinch running for Bryce Harman. ECU left two men on base, but the two runs proved to be enough.

ECU will look to take this momentum into Wednesday's rematch against North Carolina State, who edged the Pirates in last week's matchup. Two wins over No. 12 Rice and a win over N.C. State would garner ECU some national attention.

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