The East Carolina baseball team closed the regular season at Clark-LeClair Stadium Saturday, but not without some extra-innings drama against Texas San-Antonio.
With the winning run at third base in the bottom of the 10th inning, the far-from-fleet-footed Luke Lowery dropped a two-out bunt that caught the Roadrunners by surprise – The ball spun tightly to the line fair, hitting the bag at third base to safely score senior Drew Reynolds and clinch the rubber-game victory for the Pirates, 3-2.
"Coach (Billy) Godwin gave me the option," said Lowery of his decision to bunt. "The third baseman was playing pretty much in the outfield grass. I tried it earlier this week and I bunted it foul, so this time I got a nice little roll there right off the bag."
In addition to scoring the winning run, Reynolds (4-3), who was playing in his final home game, earned the win on the mound; allowing just two hits in four innings of work. Once he crossed home plate, turned and saw Lowery's bunt had stayed fair, Reynolds removed his helmet and began the mob scene of the Pirates' (32-24, 16-14 C-USA) hero between first base and the pitcher's mound."My first reaction was it was so close to line, I thought it was going to roll foul," Reynolds said. "Right when it hit the base and I knew we had won in my last game at Clark-LeClair on a walk-off … I was really happy for us." And just as it has been all season long, success didn't come easy for the Pirates Saturday.
UTSA (32-24, 16-14 C-USA) opened scoring in the top of the fifth inning on John Welborn's solo home run, which was the first of four consecutive singles off starter Brett Mabry – culminating on Mike Warren's RBI single to plate Horacio Correa III to make it 2-0. Mabry scattered seven hits in six innings pitched.
|Luke Lowery (24) dropped the game-winning bunt single. td>|
In the bottom of the frame, ECU got a run back on Dylan Brown's two-out single that plated Charlie Yorgen. Then, the Pirates tied the game the next inning on an error by UTSA catcher John Bormann, who failed to hold onto Logan Kinder's rope from left field; allowing Luke Lowery to score.
"I was out by a couple of steps, so we're kind of fortunate that he dropped it," said Lowery.
Once both teams removed their starters and turned to their bullpens in the latter innings, there was little offensive production – the Pirates and Roadrunners combined for three hits in the last three frames of the regular nine innings.A bizarre sequence in the top of the 10th inning led to several heated arguments between players and coaches alike. After a lead-off single by Warren, John Bormann dragged a bunt down the first base line that hit his heel as he tried to reach base. Instead of being called out, the umpires ruled it a foul ball, which prompted Godwin and ECU players to argue the call. With Bormann showing bunt again, Reynolds threw a high inside pitch that was fouled off the batman's helmet. A couple UTSA players came out of the dugout exchanging words, while Jesse Baker, who was on deck, had to be restrained by his teammates. "When you've played 56 games, and you're out here on a hot day, and you've played a doubleheader yesterday and you're in a tight game today, everybody has a little edge to them," Reynolds said. "We were trying to make sure that it was a strike. They were trying to buy the hit-by-pitch so they can get on base and some things got said." Reynolds eventually got out of the inning with the score still 2-2 to set up the dramatic bottom half of the frame. Depending on the results of the rest of today's C-USA games, ECU will either finish sixth or seventh in the league standings as it prepares for next week's tournament in Hattiesburg, Miss.