baseball Edit

(9)East Carolina Hangs On To Beat Illinois State 4-3(11)

Friday night starter Gavin Williams and (9)East Carolina find a way to beat Illinois State in 11 innings.
Friday night starter Gavin Williams and (9)East Carolina find a way to beat Illinois State in 11 innings. ( photo)

Seth Caddell’s base hit to left in the bottom of the eleventh scored the game winning run and got (9)East Carolina back on the winning track with a 3-2 win over Illinois State in the Friday game of a weekend set in Clark-LeClair Stadium.

It wasn’t ECU’s best performance of the season, but they found a way to pick up the win. When you are ranked, you’re going to get everyone’s best shot and that is what the Pirates got Friday night.

“It feels good to win, but I don’t think we played as good as we could tonight. We weren’t tough enough obviously offensively with fifteen strikeouts,” said Caddell, “Then at the end of the eleventh inning I’ve got to give praise to Norby up there getting a single then Agnos getting a bunt down and them walking Franny, so I just give the credit to them. They put me in a good spot and I just put a good swing on a ball.”

“I feel like we should have easily beat that team better than we did tonight,” Caddell told PI, “We’ve just got to be a lot tougher especially at the plate because we can’t always expect our pitching staff to give up just two or three runs.”

Gavin Williams is settling into his Friday starter position for ECU(14-3). Williams went five innings of three hit baseball, fanning seven Redbird batters and Ryder Giles(1-0) came on late to pick up the victory. Cam Colmore, C.J. Mayhue and Matt Bridges all saw action in relief for a Pirate team that found a way to avoid losing twice in as many games.

“It’s way better than a loss and I’m happy that we found a way to win, East Carolina head coach Cliff Godwin told afterward, “But we’ve got to be better. If we’re not better this is fool’s gold and we’re not going to win as many games as we need to win to get to where we need to go.”

While Godwin was not happy with the way things went overall, he acknowledged that it’s baseball and anything can happen and it just might.

“It’s tough to win college baseball games. The game doesn’t owe you anything, it doesn’t care if your East Carolina, it doesn’t care if your ranked,” said Godwin, “We didn’t make plays when we needed to. In the ninth inning if we make the catch down the right field line, if we execute the bunt before then I don’t put a slash and run on. We’ve got to be better offensively or we’re not going to win a lot of baseball games.”

Thomas Francisco’s two-run homer to right gave the Pirates an early 2-1 lead after Illinois State scored on a sacrifice fly in the top of the inning. Then Francisco’s second homer of the game off of Redbird starter Colton Johnson sailed over the right centerfield wall to extend the East Carolina lead to 3-1.

“Their starter is very good and we knew that going in. Probably the worst thing we could have done was hit a two run homer in the first inning because we took our foot off the gas pedal. Gavin Williams was really good,” said Godwin.

“Cam Colmore was really good. Ryder Giles was really good and then Connor Norby smokes the ball, we execute a sac bunt for the first time in like three weeks then they intentionally walk Franny. Seth gets a ball through the six hole and we walk them off. We’ll need to be better tomorrow.”

In the top of the ninth, Gunner Peterson’s double to center with the bases loaded scored a pair of Redbird runs to tie the game. Then a wild pitch from ECU reliever Matt Bridges put Illinois State in position to win the game when Peterson advanced from second to third before Bridges struck out Jeremy Gaines to end the threat.

The Pirates were unable to answer in the bottom of the ninth, pushing the contest into extra innings and Illinois State loaded the bases in the top of the tenth but they too were unable to capitalize.

Ryley Johnson singled and then stole second base putting a runner in scoring position for ECU with one out in the bottom of the tenth before a pair of Colin Wyman strikeouts ended the tenth frame for Illinois State.

Left-handed Illinois State starter Colton Johnson lasted seven innings, giving up seven hits and three runs despite delivering nine of the Redbirds’ fifteen strikeouts before yielding to reliever Colin Wyman(0-1) who ultimately took the loss.

The Pirates return to action Saturday afternoon in the second game of the weekend series with Illinois State(5-10). The first pitch is scheduled for 4 o’clock.