ECU advances to AAC tourney semifinal

CLEARWATER, Fla. — ECU (38-20) moved one step closer to the conference tournament crown after it defeated Tulane (34-22), 3-1 on Thursday to advance to the semifinal round.

A pair of eighth inning outfield assists helped propel the Pirates past Tulane in the second round of the conference tournament on Thursday as the Pirates claimed a 3-1 win over the Green Wave.

Down by one run in the top of the eighth, Tulane attempted to score Nico Symington from second after Garrett Deschamp’s single to center. However, ECU center fielder Garrett Brooks made a perfect throw home that beat Symington to the plate and allowed catcher Travis Watkins to apply the tag and preserve the 2-1 lead.

Symington was ejected from the game after throwing his helmet in frustration following the play and the Tulane bench expressed its displeasure in the call.

Things got even more frustrating for the Green Wave as another attempted score in the eighth inning went awry yet again. Deschamps, whose single almost tied the game, attempted a score of his own but was thrown out at the plate by Pirate left fielder Luke Lowery.

“They guys are playing well. We’ve played well in the clutch the past couple games,” ECU coach Cliff Godwin said, following his team’s victory.

ECU took a 3-1 lead into the ninth where freshman Joe Ingle capped off his two and two-thirds, scoreless innings of relief with a perfect ninth inning.

“Tonight was a pitcher’s duel, it was intense. You’re living and dying on every pitch but Joe Ingle came in and pitched phenomenal for us,” said Godwin.

Ingle’s perfect final frame was fueled by his initial inning of relief, coming in with runners on second and third with one out and ECU holding a one-run lead.

Akin to his performances all season long, the freshman pitcher struck out the next two Tulane batters and got the Pirates out of the jam.

“We’ve kind of worked (Ingle) into that role,” Godwin said. “We didn’t want to throw him into the wolves as a freshman early in the season but every time out he keeps getting better. He’s throwing more strikes and what a job he did when he came in in the seventh inning with runners on second and third with one out and got back to back punch outs.”

Evan Kruczynski, the team’S Friday night starter for most of the season, turned in an impressive performance as he allowed just a single run which came in the first inning after a fielder’s choice.

From there, the sophomore settled in and pitched five scoreless frames before handing the ball over to Ingle. He allowed just three hits in the contest and struck out seven.

“(Kruczynski) helped us out of a lot of jams,” Godwin said. “We made a couple errors behind him but he gave us a quality start and that’s what he can do for us.”

The Pirates found early scoring of their own in the first inning as a Tulane throwing error allowed senior shortstop Hunter Allen to cross home and knot the game at one.

The score remained deadlocked at one until the bottom of the fifth when Reid Love notched a sacrifice fly to right field that allowed Garrett Brooks to score from third, giving ECU a 2-1 lead which it would carry into the eighth.

With the win, the Pirates will play on Saturday in the semifinal of the winner’s bracket against either Tulane or Connecticut.

“We have to worry about having another practice tomorrow and giving them some free time and then Saturday we can worry about the next game,” Godwin said.

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