Bucs Rally Past Seahawks

GREENVILLE -- ECU (22-15) rallied from four runs down to defeat UNC Wilmington (17-19) 8-5 at Clark-LeClair Stadium Wednesday behind a spectacular pitching display from Reid Love.

Wednesday night's game against UNC Wilmington didn't begin well for the East Carolina baseball team. The Pirates fell behind 4-0 in the first two innings with freshman starter Davis Kirkpatrick lasting just an inning.

But once they settled down, the bats eventually woke up for a pair of scoring outbursts in the middle frames and ECU came from behind to win comfortably, 8-5, at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

However, the rally was due in large-part to the calm demeanor of junior southpaw Reid Love. Love, who didn't record an out in his start at Old Dominion Saturday, seemed unfazed coming on in relief and tossed 7 2/3 flawless innings – surrendering just one run on two hits.

"It all starts with Love coming in and doing what he did," ECU coach Billy Godwin said. "Reid's a tremendous competitor and the one thing you want to do when you don't get results is … stick your competitors back onto the field."

Just four days removed from arguably the worst outing of his career, Love proved that performance was behind him and that it wasn't going to affect him Wednesday night.

"Last time, I just tried to do too much," he said. Adding, "You've got to have a short memory to play this game."

The Pirates (22-15) came alive for five runs on four hits in the bottom of the fourth inning, highlighted by left fielder Dylan Brown's two-run double. It was a pivotal play that seemed to be a lazy fly-ball into the outfield, but on a cool, windy evening, Wilmington (17-19) centerfielder Casey Golden misjudged the ball and it went over his head.

"I've been out there before and a windy day is tough," said Brown, who was 3-for-5 at the plate. "I was thankful for it and I'm glad it went on the other end of the stick. But I'll take whatever I can get right now."

Drew Reynolds followed suit with an RBI single to give ECU the lead – 5-4 – and the Pirates added three insurance runs in the sixth inning to put the Seahawks away.

It certainly didn't seem that way early, though.

Kirkpatrick struggled in his fourth career start, permitting a walk and a hit-and-run single to put runners on the corners for the Seahawks with none away in the first. Following a sacrifice fly to open scoring, Ryan LaGrange drilled a two-out home run over the left field fence to make it 3-0 Wilmington.

The freshman right-hander from nearby D.H. Conley High School began the second inning by allowing a single and a walk, which prompted Godwin to make the change to Love. On the next at-bat, Steven Linkous' successful safety squeeze scored Robbie Thorburn to push the Seahawks' lead to 4-0.

After their five-run fourth inning, the Pirates continue to capitalize on Wilmington's mistakes to gain a cushion in the bottom of the sixth.

Seahawks reliever Will Shepley allowed a pair of runs to score on a wild pitch and a balk. With Shepley still in the game, Zach Houchins applied more damage by lacing an RBI double to the left-field wall to score Reynolds and make it 8-4.

Wilmington scored its lone run off Love in the top of the ninth, but it proved to be inconsequential in the end. However, just one out away from victory, Godwin elected to take out Love, who then received a standing ovation from the 2,361 in attendance.

"I wanted to stay in, but that's coach's decision," said Love, laughing.

ECU will quickly turn around for a three-game series against Middle Tennessee State. First pitch for game one is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

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