ECU Topples Catamounts 12-6
ECU got five runs in the bottom of the third inning, five more late in the game and cruised to a 12-6 win over Western Carolina in Sunday action to complete this year’s Keith LeClair Classic in Greenville.
Tyler Smith(1-0) got the win for ECU(8-4) and Chase Walter fell to 0-2 with the loss for the Catamounts. Smith gave up nine hits and three runs in five innings of work, but it was the work of Jake Kuchmaner who came on in relief in the seventh and eighth innings to shut the door after a big three-run Catamount homer from Daylan Nanny.
"That's our plan out of the bullpen. Whatever I can do to bring back momentum and bring energy to our side that's what I'm trying to do," said Kuchmaner, "Work fast, fill the zone and hopefully get some outs.... quick."
Cliff Godwin had good things to say about Kuchmaner's performance afterward.
“I gave Kuchmaner the shirt. I thought when Kuchmaner came in, the momentum of the game changed,” said ECU head coach Cliff Godwin, “To be honest with you, I thought our team felt like hey.. something else bad was going to happen after they scored the runs. Then offensively we got our feet back underneath us and put together the big inning and executed well down the stretch."
A Turner Brown grounder in the bottom of the second got the scoring underway when Bryant Packard crossed home plate to give ECU an early 1-0 lead.
In the top of the third, Western Carolina(5-5) scored a run to tie the contest at 1-1 when Justice Bigbie’s ground out to second base allowed Colin Bertsch to score. The Pirates then struck for five runs in the third frame on a three run homer from Thomas Francisco followed by a two-run Jake Washer home run that gave ECU a 6-1 lead.
In the fourth inning, Alec Burleson left the game with what looked to be a hamstring injury.
Bigbie was at it again in the top of the fifth when his base hit to third base brought Bertsch across home plate for the second time in the game.
Brady Lloyd’s hard hit RBI base hit up the middle produced another ECU run when Bryant Packard scored as the ECU lead grew to 7-2. The Catamounts scored again in the top of the sixth on an Andrew Bullock base hit to center and Sparks scored to make it 7-3.
In the sixth inning a Bullock RBI single to center and a three-run Daylan Nanny homer for Western Carolina then quickly trimmed the ECU lead to 7-6.
But ECU’s lead grew to 12-6 on a Brady Lloyd fielder’s choice that scored a run. Dusty Baker’s grounder allowed Ryder Giles to score and Brady Lloyd and Bryant Packard both scored on a wild pitches late in the contest.
"First off I think Tyler Smith gave us a good start. One swing kind of changed the game. Then Jake Kuchmaner came in and the kind of shut all the negativity out that we had in our minds," Bryant Packard said, "I felt like some of the team was kind of like, oh no, not again and Kuchmaner wasn't expecting to come in but filled the shoes correctly and really got the momentum on our side."
Blake Terry came on in the seventh for Western Carolina for Chase Walter who gave up seven runs on nine hits in 105 pitches.