Pirates Drop Rubber Game Against Tigers

GREENVILLE, N.C. — ECU’s (17-12) hopes for a victorious inaugural American Athletic Conference series was dashed by Memphis (17-6) during Sunday’s 4-2 series finale.

ECU’s (17-12) hopes for a victorious inaugural American Athletic Conference series was dashed by Memphis (17-6) during Sunday’s 4-2 series finale.

For the second straight day, Memphis center fielder Darien Tubbs made a play that propelled the Tigers to a late-game victory, and for the second straight day, fellow center fielder and East Carolina junior Garrett Brooks was on the losing end of the deal.

Just one game removed from having a potential game-tying, ninth inning RBI hit robbed by the outstretched glove of a diving Tubbs, Brooks misjudged a seventh inning fly ball, hit by Tubbs, that flew over his head and allowed the Memphis centerfielder to hustle all the way around the bases for an inside-the-park, three-run home run.

Powered by Tubbs’ homer and Brooks’ misjudgment, Memphis took a 4-2 lead and shut down ECU (17-12, 1-2 AAC) on its way to claiming Sunday’s finale at Clark-LeClair Stadium and the series.

“It wasn’t just the inside the park (home run) that did it today,” ECU Head Coach Cliff Godwin said. “No offense to (Memphis), but we gave them the win today and we gave it to them yesterday.”

Akin to the both of Saturday’s doubleheader games, the series finale was a low-scoring affair as ECU’s David Lucroy (2-1) was pitted against Memphis’ (17-6, 2-1 American Athletic Conference) Connor Alexander.

The freshman Alexander exited the game with one out in the sixth inning after having allowed only four hits and two runs during his first conference start of the season.

The Pirates’ two runs came early in the game as Love kicked off the home half of the first inning by stealing home plate, following an arrant throw, to give ECU a 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the fifth, Hunter Allen’s sacrifice bunt plated Kirk Morgan and extending ECU’s lead to 2-0.

Lucroy worked a near-flawless game until the seventh inning, when two singles and a hit batter forced Godwin to turn to the bullpen with the bases loaded. Reid Love came on in relief and worked Tigers third baseman Zach Schritenthal into a fielder’s choice before Tubbs’ home run.

Despite the seemingly strong outing, Lucroy was charged with the loss and finished with 6 1/3 innings pitched. He permitted five runs (three of which were earned) and struck out nine batters during his 97-pitch outing.

“He pitched awesome, he pitched good enough to win,” Godwin said. “I don’t think he should have been charged with the loss. It’s tough for us to overcome that.”

With only five hits in the game, ECU’s anemic offensive series was culminated by the Pirates’ inability to make good contact. No ECU batter registered more than one hit in the game and only Allen and Luke Lowery notched an extra base hit.

“We just have to worry about quality at bats and squaring things up,” Allen said following the loss. “We have to put balls in play and try to work and get things going again.”

Since sweeping Elon and Princeton earlier in the month, Godwin’s Pirates have cooled down significantly. With the loss, ECU is now 3-6 in its last nine games and all but one of the losses were decided by two runs or less.

“Our guys are still learning how to win in close games,” Godwin said. “Our best players have got to learn how to make big plays when it matters in the clutch. We have to pick ourselves up and play better.”

ECU does not have any midweek games scheduled this week and will resume its conference slate with a home series against Tulane. The three-game series will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday night.

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