View from the East
Saturday, June 2, 2012
By Al Myatt
STAR OF THE
answers the call
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CHAPEL HILL — East
Carolina had to make a call to the bullpen on Saturday in a must-win
game with Ivy League champion Cornell. Senior left-hander Kevin Brandt
was struggling uncharacteristically against the Big Red and the Pirates
turned to Tyler Joyner, a junior southpaw.
Joyner is normally a
weekend starter for ECU but he became middle relief, set up man and
closer at Boshamer Stadium in the Pirates' second game in the regionals.
Over the last four and
two-thirds innings, Joyner allowed just one hit and held Cornell
scoreless. With the entire batting order getting at least one hit, the
2012 Pirates lived to play another day with a 10-6 victory.
Joyner hails from Northern
Nash, the high school alma mater of ECU coach Billy Godwin.
"Tyler certainly came in
and threw well," Godwin said.
Brandt yielded four runs
in the bottom of the fourth as Cornell went ahead 4-2.
The Pirates regained the
lead with a five-spot in the fifth but the Big Red continued its attack
in the bottom of the frame.
"Everyone seemed to be
seeing the ball well against Brandt," said Cornell's Brandon Lee, who
had three hits with a double off the ECU starter. "I think we saw a lot
of fast balls the first time through. The second time he was going more
with his offspeed stuff."
Brandt started a 1-6-3
double play to stop Cornell (31-17-1) in the first inning. He picked off
Frank Hager after a one out single in the second but he ran into trouble
in the fourth after retiring the side on three ground balls in the
Brandt plunked Chris Cruz
after a leadoff single by Brian Billigen and threw wide to first after a
bunt by Hager. Brandt tossed to catcher Zach Wright covering home for a
bases-loaded force out to get out of the fourth.
After three Cornell hits
and a walk in the fifth had brought the Big Red within 7-5, Godwin
turned to Joyner. After hitting a batter with the bases loaded to bring
in a run, Joyner escaped further trouble with a fly to left and the
first of his three strikeouts. Joyner set down eight in a row before Ben
Swinford got the Big Red's lone hit off him in the eighth.
Joyner answered the
bullpen call and allowed the Pirates to conserve the rest of the
"The coaches prepare us
for that all the time," Joyner said. "You have to stay focused and do
Lee said Joyner threw a
sharp breaking ball.
"His fast ball had late
life," added the Cornell catcher. "He did a good job coming in and
forcing contact. The defense did a good job behind him."
ECU (36-23-1) got
productive results — 15 hits — from shuffling its lineup after
an 11-3 loss to St. John's
"It spreads like wild
fire," Godwin said of ECU's revived offense after six Pirates (Drew
Reynolds, John Wooten, Jay Cannon, Wright, Chase McDonald and Jack
Reinheimer) each got a pair of hits.
"You get confident and you
start believing," said the ECU coach.
ECU plays North Carolina
at 1 p.m. today. The winner will face St. John's, which is unbeaten in
regional play, at 6 p.m. The season ends for this afternoon's loser in
the double-elimination event.
St. John's stunned the
host Tar Heels on Saturday night with a three-run walkoff homer by Danny
Bethea in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Godwin did not name a
starter for today's 1 p.m. game immediately after the win over the Big
"We'll go with the best
available person," he said, adding that Jharel Cotton, Andy Smithmyer
and Drew Reynolds were among those who were in the pitching picture.
"We're still in good shape."
The Pirates go into today
three wins away from getting to a Super Regional.
"We've got to have a
similar mindset," Godwin said of the approach that led to survival on
Saturday. "Our backs are to the wall. We've got to relax and play one
pitch at a time."
E-mail Al Myatt
06/03/12 03:16 AM.