Pirates' Rally Falls Short

GREENVILLE, N.C. – Old Dominion (25-16) never trailed at any point of its 5-3 non-conference victory against ECU (24-17) Monday. The Pirates ninth inning rally fell just short

Old Dominion pitchers kept the Pirates at bay for most of the night Monday, but East Carolina had a chance to tie the game with one swing of the bat by pinch-hitter Josh Lovick. However, he couldn't capitalize – striking out to seal the Monarchs' 5-3 victory at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

In contrast to the Pirates (24-17), ODU (26-16) made the most of its nine hits – scoring a run in four of the game's last five innings.

"From the fifth inning to the eighth, we just couldn't stop the bleeding," said ECU coach Billy Godwin.

ECU right-hander David Lucroy turned in a quality start – permitting four runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings of work – but was given little run support.

"I felt like I could have done more to help my club," Lucroy said. "I have a lot of confidence in my guys that we were going to get the job done. To be honest, we did strike back. It was just a little too late."

Although both teams are members of Conference USA, the game counts as a non-conference meeting to make up for the Pirates' cancelation at UNC Wilmington last week. ODU has taken three out of four games against ECU this season.

ODU is the third highest team on the Ratings Percentage Index (29) that ECU has faced this season and as the time nears to begin comparing resumes, Godwin feels the urgency level needs to be raised.

"I'm really up front with them about where we're at and what every game means," he said. "I'm not even sure they know what RPI is, but certainly I do. We can't let (games) keep slipping through our fingers."

The Monarchs opened scoring on outfielder Josh Eldridge's RBI single in the top of the second inning, although the Pirates did answer in the bottom half of the frame. With the bases loaded, Bryce Harman collided with ODU starter Greg Tomchick as he scored on a passed ball.

Tomchick was forced to leave with an upper-body injury. However, ECU couldn't do any further damage off freshman southpaw Joey Benitez, who tossed 3.2 innings without surrendering a hit.

ODU retook the lead in the fifth inning when Nick Walker plated Tyler Urps with a double down the left field line. It would begin a streak of four innings that the Monarchs crossed a run to score. They also collected eight or their nine hits in the last five frames innings alone.

The Pirates looked to make another one of its patented late-game rallies in the bottom of the ninth inning. With two outs, Ian Townsend scored on a wild pitch and pinch-hitter Luke Lowery drove in Charlie Yorgen to trim the deficit to 5-3. But the rally fell short when Lovick struck out on a breaking ball to end the game.

ECU will get another shot at a top-50 team in the RPI Tuesday night against North Carolina. The Pirates have lost six straight games against the Tar Heels, who appeared in the College World Series last summer. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

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