No. 2 Virginia Completes Sweep Over Pirates

GREENVILLE, N.C. — No. 2 Virginia (3-0) completed its three-game sweep of ECU (0-3) by taking both games of Saturday's doubleheader at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

Second-ranked Virginia took care of business in Saturday’s doubleheader at Clark-LeClair Stadium, winning both games to complete its season-opening sweep of the Pirates.

The Cavaliers were the beneficiaries of an error-laced game one, which featured five East Carolina errors that directly played a hand in seven unearned Virginia runs, as they coasted to a comfortable 9-2 victory. Then in the eighth inning of low-scoring game two, the visiting Cavs broke a 2-2 tie with two timely runs to cement a 4-2 decision.

The Pirates were outscored 16-5 in the weekend sweep. Conversely, Virginia has now won the last nine meetings with ECU, dating back to 2011.

“It says that we are competitive,” junior pitcher David Lucroy said was his takeaway from the weekend. “We will always be hungry and we’re going to stay after people because that’s the way this team works. We didn’t win, and we should have, but we compete and we’re going to keep doing that.”

With the Pirates’ top returning starter, southpaw Reid Love, out for at least this series with a minor hand injury and promising sophomore right-hander Davis Kirkpatrick gone for the season after off-season Tommy John surgery, it was uncertain who first-year coach Cliff Godwin was going to bring to the mound in the series finale.

He gave the ball to Lucroy, and he didn’t disappoint. After giving up two runs in the first two innings, the junior right-hander settled in — tossing 5 1/3 frames and allowing just four Virginia hits and two walks.

“Obviously, I’m not going to be terribly upset (with his performance), I’m pretty upset that we lost,” Lucroy said. “It doesn’t matter really how my performance was if we lost the game. It’s almost irrelevant. Realistically, I just have to throw better than I did because I didn’t give my team enough of a chance to win.”

The Pirates trailed 2-0 early in game two after the Cavs crossed a run in each of the first two frames with well-executed small ball in the first inning and the second of designated hitter Matt Thais’ two solo home runs Saturday afternoon in the top of the second.

Junior Garrett Brooks pushed first-year Pirate Jeff Nelson home to score with a single in the bottom of the second inning to make it 2-1; then, three frames later, Kirk Morgan plated Parker Lamm on an RBI fielder’s choice to knot the game up 2-all.

However, Virginia eventually prevailed by stringing together four hits in the eighth inning off of ECU reliever Jimmy Boyd, culminating with Thais’ RBI single to stretch the Cavs’ advantage to 4-2.

Asked once again to rally, the Pirates had no answer — going six up, six down to end the game and the series.

“We played much better in the second game and that was pleasant to see, but there are no moral victories when you lose,” said Godwin.

The first game of the doubleheader strongly resembled the series opener on Friday in that the Cavaliers’ offense was fueled by the Pirates’ miscues.

Shortly after ECU took its first and only lead of the series in the bottom of the first inning on a bloop single by Luke Lowery, Virginia loaded the bases on shortstop Hunter Allen’s fielding error, a hit-by-pitch and a throwing error by first-time starter Jacob Wolfe.

The Cavs capitalized with freshman Charlie Cody’s first career hit, along with an RBI groundout to third base by Justin Novak and a poorly judged fielding error by Allen — his second of the frame — to cap a five-run second inning that featured one hit and three errors.

Wolfe led off the fourth inning with his second throwing error, which shortly turned into a run after a well-executed sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly. The Cavs would add two more runs to make it 8-1 in the fifth that were made possible because of another throwing error, this time by catcher Travis Watkins.

Wolfe was on the mound for all eight of the runs up to that point, allowing seven hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings of work. Right-hander Connor Jones tossed six innings for the Cavaliers and surrendered just three hits and a walk.

Both teams traded runs in the ninth inning —Thais blasted a solo home run to right field and Watkins singled home Ryan Clinch — to complete the game’s scoring.

Out of the nine runs Virginia scored in game one, just three of them were earned because of the errors that plagued the Pirates.

“The first game I was pretty disappointed our fans had to watch that,” Godwin told reporters. “We just didn’t play good defense.”

Godwin said he has not made a decision on who Wednesday night’s starter at Old Dominion will be. Sophomore left-hander Luke Bolka was the only pitcher who did not make an appearance this weekend.

Love will begin throwing again Monday and although he will not be ready by Wednesday, he could return as early as next weekend’s LeClair Classic. Godwin said suspended first baseman Bryce Harman was day-to-day as to when he will make his season debut.

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