PirateIllustrated - ECU Falls to Indiana 11-5
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ECU Falls to Indiana 11-5

(17) ECU came out on the short end of an 11-5 loss Friday afternoon on day one of the Keith LeClair Classic.
(17) ECU came out on the short end of an 11-5 loss Friday afternoon on day one of the Keith LeClair Classic. (PirateIllustrated.com photo)

(17)ECU found themselves in a slugfest early with Indiana and the Hoosiers ultimately got the better of it in an 11-5 Friday win on day one of the Keith LeClair Classic in Greenville.

Indiana used a 15 hit barrage to overcome a pair of Pirate leads in the first four innings before adding five runs late and shutting the Pirates out in the final five innings of the game.

A Grant Richardson homer in the third and RBI doubles from Drew Ashley, Jordan Fucci and Hunter Jessee did the bulk of the damage for the Hoosiers.

Braden Scott went four innings of relief on the mound with seven strikeouts and no runs earned him the victory after Indiana starter Gabe Bierman yielded six early runs on five hits, two of which were earned, to go along with six strikeouts. Alec Burleson fell to 1-1 with the loss while pitching on short rest for the Pirates.

On a day where everyone in purple and gold wore the number 23 in honor of former Pirate head coach Keith LeClair who died of ALS, Lane Hoover and Zach Agnos both had a pair of base hits while Agnos, Burleson, Seth Caddell and Nick Barber all added RBI's in Friday's loss to the Hoosiers. All told, ECU cranked out nine hits, but the ball wasn't falling in open areas a lot and as a result the Pirates left nine base runners stranded.

“They had a lead the whole game. Our guys battled in the game until we gave up a home run late and they’ve got a really good pitching staff which I talked about pregame,” ECU head coach Cliff Godwin said, “We’ve got to be within striking distance just to be able to scratch and claw, but their lefty who came in did a really good job against us.”

Godwin said his starting pitcher wasn’t in the best of postures entering Friday’s contest.

“Burly was out of gas. He was on a day short rest because we had to play a double-header last weekend. He was giving everything he had, he just didn’t have his stuff,” said Godwin, “They’re a good offensive team. Give them credit. When we made mistakes on the mound, they made us pay for it.”

Burleson talked about what he saw out there on the mound for the Pirates on Friday.

“I felt like they had a good approach off of me. They definitely were staying in the middle of the field,” said Burleson, “I felt like anything I threw up there whether it was in the zone or out of the zone they were going to hit today. They had a really good offensive day and it's something I did not match today and I need to get better.”

For third baseman Zach Agnos, tomorrow is another opportunity to put together a quality weekend of baseball.

“The sun comes up tomorrow. We barreled the balls a lot tonight. Burly barreled up a few. It was just one of those days that the ball’s not falling. The other team is barreling up balls that are finding the right spots, so we’re going to get ourselves to sleep, get a good meal and we’re going to wake up and realize tomorrow's a new day.”

Indiana scored two runs in the first inning on Fucci’s two bagger down the left field line to generate an early 2-0 lead.

In the bottom of the second frame, ECU got into the act, scoring three runs on a Seth Caddell hit, Nick Barber’s RBI grounder to the pitcher that resulted in a run and a Zach Agnos RBI base knock to right. At that point it looked like the Pirates were headed for a quality outing. The ECU dugout was extremely vocal and all signs pointed to a big day in store for the Pirates.

But Indiana was at it again in the top of the third with a two-run Grant Richardson blast over the right field wall that left little doubt followed by a two-run Hunter Jessee double down the right field line and suddenly it was 6-3 Hoosiers.

With ECU still down by a field goal in the fourth, Skylar Brooks scored on a wild pitch from Indiana right-hander Gabe Bierman. Then Alec Burleson’s single to left allowed Lane Hoover to cross home plate as the Pirates cut the lead to 6-5.

Burleson, who got the start on the mound for ECU lasted just 2.5 innings, yielding six runs on eight hits to go along with a pair of strikeouts before moving over to first base. Carter Spivey and Skylar Brooks then combined for 1.2 innings of work before righty Garrett Saylor came on with runners on the corners and one out in the fifth. Collin Hopkins’ single to right then scored another Indiana run.

Then with two gone in the bottom of the sixth, ECU head coach Cliff Godwin was not happy at all with the way strikes were being called. He was eventually tossed from the game shortly after and the Pirates left two more base runners stranded in the inning.

Juco transfer Parker Boyle came on for ECU in the seventh to throw to two batters before being lifted for right-hander Trystan Kimmel who inherited an Indiana runner on second base in the form of Elijah Durham. Then a Fucci double to right allowed Durham to score an Indiana insurance run in an 8-5 contest.

Fuci’s right field double in the seventh and a three-run Ashley homer in the top of the eighth eventually put the game out of reach.

ECU returns to action on Saturday at 4:30 against (13)Ole Miss as the Keith LeClair Classic continues. Stay tuned for more throughout the weekend here on PirateIllustrated.com.