Errors Spoil ECU's Opener Against No. 2 UVA

GREENVILLE, N.C. — Aided by two costly errors by ECU, No. 2 Virginia won Friday's season opener 3-1 at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

Pitted against Virginia, who was ranked second in most national preseason polls, the Pirates knew they had to perform almost flawlessly to have any chance of winning their regular season opener Friday.

They did not, and subsequently, the Cavaliers used two unearned runs off of two East Carolina errors and an eighth inning home run to outlast the Pirates 3-1 at Clark-LeClair Stadium; thus spoiling first-year coach Cliff Godwin’s ECU debut.

“I don’t think we played well. We made two errors that gave them two runs,” Godwin said. “When you’re playing the number-two ranked team in the country, you’ve got to play clean baseball. That was the only thing that was disappointing.”

Virginia’s ace, junior left-hander Nathan Kirby, kept the hosting Pirates at bay for most of the afternoon, scattering three hits across seven innings and striking out five. Fellow southpaw Evan Kruczynski lasted 5 1/3 frames — allowing just the two unearned runs on eight hits — in his first career start before giving way to the ECU bullpen.

“Kryczynski was awesome,” said Godwin. “If you would have told me I was going to get that out of him, I would have been very happy. I texted him this morning and told him I had a ton of confidence in him and he pitched kind of the way I thought he was going to pitch.”

Neither team presented any serious scoring threats until the fourth inning. In the top of the frame, ECU catcher Travis Watkins failed to grab a lazy fly ball in foul territory, which allowed for Robbie Coman to keep the inning alive with a two-out single. The hit advanced Kenny Towns, who eventually crossed the game’s first run while the Pirates ended the inning in a run down.

Virginia added to its lead in the fifth with a little bit of help. First, it was a hit by designated hitter Matt Thais that hit the first-base bag and then glanced off an unsuspecting photographer. The first-base umpired called outside interference, which granted Thais second base.

After back-to-back fly outs, it appeared the Pirates were going to escape trouble unscathed when Ernie Clement popped up into a seemingly harmless fly ball. However, despite being in pristine position to make the play, second baseman Charlie Yorgen mishandled the ball, allowing another unearned run to score.

“It’s baseball. You’ve got to fight through it and we’re a team that fights,” said junior-college transfer Parker Lamm.

After a solo home run by Daniel Pinero made it 3-0 in the eighth inning, the Pirates did indeed fight back in the bottom of the frame. Garrett Brooks’ one-out single was followed by a Hunter Allen double off of right-hander Alec Bettinger, who came in to relieve Kirby. Then Bettinger hit Lamm with an inside pitch to load the bases, setting up Jimmy Boyd plating ECU’s only run on the ensuing at-bat with a sacrifice fly.

Junior Luke Lowery represented to the go-ahead run when he stepped to dish, but flew out to left field to end the frame and Cavaliers’ closer Josh Sborz retired ECU in order in the ninth inning to slam the door shut.

In addition to drawing a hit-by-pitch, Lamm went 2-for-3 at the plate — as he was the only Pirate two collect multiple hits off of Kirby Friday — in his first Division I college baseball game since transferring from nearby Pitt Community College.

“We know if we put together good at-bats that we can score runs, move runners around and create havoc for their defense,” said Lamm.

The Pirates and Cavaliers will complete their weekend series Saturday afternoon with a doubleheader that begins at noon. The originally scheduled Sunday afternoon game was moved to Saturday due to potential inclement weather that could affect the series being finished.


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