Tulane Avoids Weekend Sweep 8-6

GREENVILLE, N.C. — ECU’s (19-13, 3-3 AAC) hope for its first American Athletic Conference series sweep was thwarted when Tulane (20-12, 2-4 AAC) took the series finale, 8-6 on Saturday.

A back-and-forth affair carried all the way into the final frame of Saturday’s contest before Eric Tyler’s game-ending double play with the bases loaded ended any chance of an East Carolina sweep over Tulane.

Down 8-5 going into the bottom of the ninth, the ECU offense attempted a late rally as the heart of the lineup put life back into the Pirates. Luke Lowery’s RBI double to left field brought Charlie Yorgen around to score, cutting the deficit to two.

On the next at-bat, with two men in scoring position, Tulane elected to intentionally walk slugger Bryce Harman, who had ravaged Green Wave pitching in Game 2 of the series with his two-home run performance.

With the bases full and one out, Tyler’s liner up the middle off of pitcher Patrick Duester was just in reach of Tulane’s diving shortstop Stephen Alemais.

Alemais began a game-ending double play and Tulane avoided the weekend sweep, 8-6, at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

“Their shortstop is one of the best defensive shortstops in the country,” ECU (19-13, 3-3 AAC) coach Cliff Godwin said just minutes after the loss. “He’s really good and he made an unbelievable play. Eric hit the ball hard and that’s a double play ball.”

The high-scoring game featured 26 combined hits from the two teams, but it was Hunter Williams’ ground rule double in the eighth inning that increased Tulane’s (20-12, 2-4 AAC) lead to 7-5 and put the potential Pirate sweep out of reach. Four Pirate hitters had more than one hit and each of the four ECU batters collected at least one RBI.

Just a day removed from tallying 11 runs and 13 hits against Tulane, the Pirate offense, once again, swung the bat well, notching 12 hits on Saturday. But unlike Friday’s rout, ECU was unable to capitalize on scoring situations, finishing just 5-for-16 with runners in scoring position. Struggles on the mound ultimately hindered ECU’s late effort. Both teams scattered runs throughout the contest, but Pirate right-hander David Lucroy’s disappointing start coupled with the team’s thin bullpen tilted the match in Tulane’s favor.

“They would score and we would score, but we just couldn’t get that shutdown inning,” sophomore infielder and pitcher Kirk Morgan said. “We just really needed a shutdown inning, but they battled hard.”

The pitching woes started early as Lucroy (2-2) lasted just 2 2/3 innings. He allowed four runs, one of which was earned on his way to being charged with the loss.

“He didn’t throw enough strikes,” Godwin said. “I said ‘hey look, man, you’re a redshirt junior. You have to go out there, and throw strikes and pump it into the zone.’ That’s what he’s been really good at when he’s pitched well and gone after guys.”

A cast of Pirate relievers came into the game, but the tone of the game was set and the Tulane offense broke through, once again, in the seventh and eighth innings, where it scored three runs to help avoid being swept.

“To sweep a team in this conference you have to play well in all phases of a game and today we didn’t do that,” Godwin said.

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