ECU Takes UCF Series With a 7-4 Saturday Home Victory
Spencer Brickhouse delivered with a three run home run in the fifth inning along with a two hits each from Bryant Packard and Alec Burleson to lead ECU to a 7-4 game two win over UCF on Saturday in Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Zach Barnes got the win to improve to 1-2 and Evan Voliva picked up his second save of the season for ECU(17-6/2-0 AAC). Grant Schulman(1-3) absorbed the loss for the Knights who fell to 15-8 and 0-2 in AAC play. Schulman gave up six hits and five runs with three strikeouts in 95 pitches for UCF.
The Knights wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, scoring three runs in the first inning to take a quick 3-0 lead.
(14)ECU answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the third frame when a Ryder Giles ground out to first brought in the first Pirate run of the day. Bryant Packard then did his part with a base hit up the middle that quickly cut the UCF lead to 3-2.
Right hander Tyler Smith lasted 4.2 innings, giving up three runs and three hits with one strikeout but weathered the early storm before Barnes came on in relief for the Pirates.
“I was proud of Tyler Smith. He could have just folded camp and had us have to go to the bullpen a whole lot earlier. He just managed it. Kept us in the game and allowed the offense to get their feet underneath them,” Cliff Godwin said afterward, “Their guy is really good. Really good ERA, keeps you off balance. Kind of a perfect storm. You’re facing a change up guy, you get anxious.”
In the bottom of the fifth, Spencer Brickhouse homered to right field to bring in three Pirate runs that gave ECU their first lead of the day at 5-3.
“Facing that lefty twice, he was a very good lefty and he was very crafty. He had a good change up and it’s something I was sitting on,” Brickhouse said, “Coach told me before I got up there to get up in the box and make sure that I stayed on that pitch because he had a very plus-plus change up. Earlier in the game he was getting me out and getting me off balance with that but he just hung one one time and gave us three runs to get us a little closer to winning the game.”
“I thought our guys did a good job of just handling some tough pitches and Brickhouse put a really good swing on a change up that was up. We got back in it,” Godwin said, “Barnes had a really good punch out. Gavin Williams came in and pitched really good and I thought Evan Voliva was outstanding.”
Things could have gone completely different on Saturday but the relief staff for ECU was steady the rest of the way.
“After giving up three in the first, it’s tough to come back, but it just speaks volumes to our pitching staff to be able to hold them to zeros after that,” Voliva said, “Ever since Mississippi State everybody has stepped up. We had a team meeting with the pitching staff and talked about how we need to start pulling our load and helping these hitters out. We’ve done that and I hope we continue to keep doing that.”
Barnes lasted just one out before right-hander Gavin Williams entered the game for ECU in the top of the sixth inning. Voliva then pitched the final two frames for the Pirates yielding just one run in the eighth before shutting the Knights down in the top of the ninth to secure the victory.
After UCF scored in the eighth, ECU put the game on ice at 7-4 when Burleson doubled down the right field line to score a run. Then Turner Brown followed with a base knock to right field that brought Brickhouse home for another.
The Pirates will look to complete the sweep Sunday at high noon when they take on UCF in game three of their AAC home series. Coach Godwin announced that Jake Kuchmaner(2-0) will get his first start for the Pirates since throwing a perfect game last Sunday against Maryland. He will go against UCF right hander Trevor Holloway (2-0, 1.37 ERA).