This 2017 Pirate baseball season is certainly not for the feint of heart.
The Pirates went 4-1 this past week, sweeping the two games at the College of Charleston and then taking two out of three from Charlotte back at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
The week opened with a 12-7 win over Charleston. The Pirates fell behind early but came back behind home runs by Spencer Brickhouse, T.J. Riles and Eric Tyler for the win.
Game two against the Cougars featured an even bigger comeback. ECU trailed 12-7 into the sixth inning when things got wild. Turner Brown, the little shortstop whose home run on opening day last year was his first since Little League, hit a grand slam. Spencer Brickhouse hit a pair of home runs and Travis Watkins hit a three -run shot to give the Pirates the victory, 15-12.
That come from behind win sent the Pirates home riding a 10-game winning streak. Charlotte came to town and shut out ECU Friday night, 2-0, to end the streak. The same Pirate team that scored 27 runs in two games at Charleston failed to get a single runner home on a disappointing Friday night at the ballpark.
With the threat of bad weather for Sunday the Pirates and 49wea played a doubleheader on Saturday.
Game one was certainly one Pirate fans will remember for a long time. Eric Tyler’s two-run single in the 1st staked the Pirates to the early lead. Then Travis Watkins hit a grand slam in the 2nd, and the Pirates seemed to prematurely put a ‘W’ in the book in the 2nd inning.
“We got a big lead early in game one and then we rested on it,” said Pirate coach Cliff Godwin. “That carried over to the fans. We didn’t have a lot of energy.”
Charlotte chipped away at the big lead and then scored four big runs in the 9th to tie the game.
“All of a sudden they put together an inning in the 9th,” said Godwin. “It was tough. Joe Ingle changed the momentum, getting those two guys out.”
In the 10th the Pirates had two on with two out, when Charlie Yorgen stepped to the plate. His line drive home run gave the Pirates a 10-7, walk-off win.
“It was definitely an emotional moment,” said Yorgen. “We went through so much in that game. It just shows the mental toughness of this team.”
“Charlie Yorgen came through,” added Yorgen. “He’s been a great captain — I say captain because he is the captain of our dugout. He got the guys going and I think that’s why we won.”
That victory gave the Pirates momentum going into the second game of the day. Jacob Wolfe was the star in game two as the Pirates clinched the series with a 3-0 win.
Wolfe was most impressive. He went 7 innings, giving up just two hits. Chris Holba added in two perfect innings in the victory.
“[Charlotte is] very good offensively. I bet they haven’t been two-hit all year,” said Godwin. “Wolfe was outstanding but we needed that because our bullpen was pretty thin from game one.”
For his part, Wolfe said he just wanted to contribute to the team’s success.
“After that huge hit by Charlie Yorgen I had to keep the momentum going into the second game,” said Wolfe.
Wolfe did just that in a dominating performance.
Up next for East Carolina is a matchup with Duke on Tuesday. That game was moved up because of the potential for bad weather for Wednesday.
Duke is 10-8 on the season and took two out of three from Virginia Tech this past weekend to open play in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Four of the Blue Devil’s wins are against Princeton. Duke opened the year with four losses in Arizona, falling twice to Gonzaga and twice to Oregon State.
Next weekend Mercer comes to Greenville for a three game series. The Bears opened the season with seven straight wins before they lost a pair to Florida A&M.
Mercer will take a 13-4 record into the team’s second matchup of the season with Georgia Tuesday night. The Bears won the earlier matchup 6-5 three weeks ago.
For my money ECU baseball is the best entertainment value in town. This is a very talented team, but it’s still baseball and you never really know what you’re going to get.
I bet Charlie Yorgen didn’t wake up Saturday morning thinking he would hit a three run, walk-off home run to win a game.
For that matter, I bet Cliff Godwin didn’t wake up thinking that either.
But that’s baseball, and the Pirates are fun to watch!