FIU Eliminates ECU from Coral Gables Regional

CORAL GABLES, FLA. — FIU (30-30) scored two runs in the eighth inning to seal a 2-0 victory in the Coral Gables Regional and eliminate ECU (40-22) from postseason play.

East Carolina senior Reid Love did everything he could to keep the Pirates’ season alive and prolong his collegiate career on Saturday afternoon in the Coral Gables Regional.

The first-team all-conference left-hander allowed six hits in 7 1/3 innings against Florida International — his sixth straight start that lasted at least seven innings — but it wasn’t enough.

FIU (30-30), the Conference USA Tournament champions, crossed two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, which was enough to secure a 2-0 victory over No. 25 ECU (40-22) at Mark Light Field.

“When we started this season not one person outside of our locker room thought we could win 40 games and win the American Conference Tournament championship,” first-year ECU coach Cliff Godwin said. “It wasn’t in the cards for us to win today, but extremely proud of our guys and the future of East Carolina baseball.”

Both of the runs were charged to Love (7-4), who gave way to reliever Joe Ingle with runners on the corners in the eighth. Then FIU's Josh Anderson and Austin Rodriguez each booked RBI singles off of the freshman right-hander to complete Saturday’s scoring summary.

“It’s tough, but it just didn’t go our way today,” Love said. “We pitched the way we needed to normally to win, but we just didn’t get some runs.”

The Pirates reached base runners into scoring position in three of the last four innings, but failed to deliver any of them.

In the sixth inning, back-to-back singles by Garrett Brooks and Hunter Allen and a successful sacrifice bunt positioned runners at second and third base for the Pirates with one out. However, FIU sophomore Christopher Mourelle resolved to escape the threat by retiring ECU’s No.3 and 4 hitters in succession.

“I think we were out of gas,” Godwin said. “Just where our swings were and stuff, we were late on a lot of stuff and just trying to cheat to get to some fastballs and got some off-speed counts.”

Mourelle finished with nearly identical numbers (six hits, 7 1/3 innings, three Ks) to Love and exited the game with Brooks on second base and just one out in the eighth inning.

FIU closer Danny Dopico (3-4) came on and struck out the first three batters he faced, before Luke Lowery laced a one-out double to the left-centerfield wall in the ninth inning. With the tying run at the plate, Dopico retired pinch-hitter Luke Bolka on a line out and punched out Bryce Harman to end the game.

Brooks (3-for-3) and Lowery (2-for-4) were the only two Pirates to finish with multiple hits against FIU pitching. Meanwhile, Panthers’ slugger Edwin Rios, who scored one of the team’s two runs, and Rodriguez each went 2-for-4 at the dish.

FIU will face the loser of Saturday’s nightcap of Miami (Fla.)-Columbia on Sunday.

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