Pirates Score Five Runs In The Eighth Inning to Beat Tulane 6-5
Down by three runs, ECU scored five runs in the eight inning and held off Tulane down the stretch to take a 6-5 victory Wednesday afternoon at Robin Roberts Field in AAC Baseball Tournament. ECU will now take on the winner of the Tulane - Houston elimination game at 12:30 Thursday afternoon.
The Pirates batted around in the eighth after Tulane(25-32) starting pitcher Kaleb Roper(5-5), who pitched magnificently for seven innings, finally ran out of gas in the eighth after a career high with eleven strikeouts. Roper went seven and two-thirds innings giving up four earned runs and five overall on five hits to take the loss.
Evan Voliva was credited with the victory among six ECU pitchers who saw action in the game, going two thirds of an inning to improve to 2-0 for the season while Jake Agnos got his first save of the season on his birthday.
ECU(41-15) starter Alec Burleson went five and a third on the mound for ECU before Trey Benton made a relief appearance and mowed down a pair of Tulane batters with the bases loaded in fifth inning to end a major Tulane threat.
It wasn’t easy by any means for the fourth seeded Pirates. Grant Witherspoon’s first of two home runs in the third inning was good for two runs to put the eight seeded Green Wave up 2-0.
In the top of the fifth, Connor Litton doubled to centerfield and advanced to third base on a fielding error from Tulane centerfielder Grand Witherspoon. Then Drew Henrickson’s sacrifice fly to right field allowed Litton to score to cut the lead to 2-1.
Benton went an inning and a third on the mound for ECU. Ryan Ross then came on with two outs in the sixth and lasted just a third of an inning after Grant Witherspoon knocked his second two-run homer of the contest and twelfth of the year to make it 4-1. Tulane appeared to be cruising in the seventh inning.
Zach Barnes saw a pair of hitters in relief in the seventh before being lifted for Voliva who made his second appearance of the season with one out in the top of the seventh inning.
The Pirates then cut the lead to 4-2 when Drew Henrickson ran home from third base after Jeremy Whitehead hit into a double play with the bases loaded in the eighth. The Bryant Packard’s first hit of the tournament then brought Brady Lloyd in from third and suddenly it was a 4-3 ballgame.
After Dwanya Williams-Sutton looped a base hit to center, advancing Packard to third, Roper was finally lifted with two outs in the eighth and right-hander Ben White came on in relief.
Spencer Brickhouse then knocked a base hit to right to tie the contest at 4-4 when a wild pitch allowed Williams-Sutton to run home from third and avoid the tag at the plate to give ECU their first lead of the game at 5-4. Jake Washer’s RBI single to right only added to Tulane’s stress when Brickhouse crossed home plate to give the Pirates a 6-4 lead.
Sal Gozzo doubled off of ECU reliever Jake Agnos who made his eighteenth appearance in the bottom of the eighth inning. Gozzo then advanced to third base on a pop fly to right field from Acy Owen. Then a wild pitch from Agnos allowed Gozzo to score to cut the lead to 6-5. But ECU held the Green Wave off in the bottom of the ninth inning to seal the victory.