ECU's Bats Awaken in Series-Clinching Rout
One night after Reid Love took center-stage on the mound with a complete-game shutout, another Pirate stepped into the spotlight with his performance in the batter’s box. Bryce Harman’s season has been riddled with inconsistent play for the East Carolina baseball team, batting just 1-for-16 in his last five games leading up to Friday's action. But against Tulane at Clark-LeClair Stadium, Harman belted two long home runs on his way to a 3-for-4, three-RBI night at the plate that paced the Pirates to an 11-4 victory over the Green Wave. “I was just seeing the ball well. I’ve been scuffling lately, but coach (Godwin) has been telling me to stay at it,” said Harman. “You just got to stay with the process. You can’t care about getting hits, I don’t care what my average is, honestly.” With a little help from a strong wind blowing out towatrds right field, both teams combined for four solo home runs; all of which sailed over the fence in right. Saturday also marked ECU’s first game with double-figure hits in its last nine games. Five different Pirates (19-12, 3-2 AAC) booked multiple hits on the team’s way to 13 hits. Cleanup hitter Luke Lowery tied Harman for a team-best three RBI. “We went through that stretch where you guys thought we looked like the best offensive team you’ve ever seen and we can’t keep up that pace” first-year ECU coach Cliff Godwin said. “Luke and Bryce (Harman) have finally started swinging the bat again and when those two are swinging the bat in the middle of our lineup, we are a different team.” Harman added, “When we start getting hits, it’s contagious. There’s nothing really else to it. Everybody else gets on the bandwagon and keeps on raking.” The parade of solo home runs began in the second inning when Tulane’s (19-12, 1-4 AAC) Lex Kaplan scored the team’s first run of the series. Harman responded in the Pirates’ half of the second with a no-doubter off of Green Wave starter Emerson Gibbs. On his next at-bat in the fourth, Harman crushed a first-pitch strike by Gibbs and gave ECU its first lead of the game, 2-1. Tulane clawed back in the fifth inning with the help of an error at third base, where Kirk Morgan saw a potential inning-ending ground ball bounce threw his legs, allowing a run to score. After plating two more runs in the frame that stretched the Green Wave’s lead to 4-2, starter Evan Kruczynski’s gave way to Jimmy Boyd. Boyd (3-7) went the rest of the way for ECU, allowing just three hits and logging a career-high nine strikeouts, which included the game's final seven outs, in 4 1/3 innings of relief. “I was just changing pitches and was able to locate everything,” said Boyd. “Being able to locate, that’s been my issue with off-speed (pitches). I haven’t been able to throw my off-speed effectively and have those out-pitches. I just did a good job of that today.” After Love’s third home run of the year trimmed Tulane’s lead to 4-3, the Pirates pulled away for good in the sixth and seventh innings. Combining for eight unanswered runs — all of which were two-out RBI — it started with Travis Watkins’ two-run single, then Lowery plated another run and Harman followed suit after that to push ECU’s lead to 7-4 through six innings. Lowery stuck again in the seventh to cap another four-run frame with a two-run triple. “You’ve got to hit in the clutch. Championship teams hit in the clutch,” said Godwin. “Travis’ hit was the key. I thought that was the one that took the lead and took momentum out of their dugout.” With Saturday’s victory, ECU has clinched its first league series-win since joining the American Athletic Conference. The Pirates and Green Wave will complete their three-game series at on Saturday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for noon at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
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