DURHAM — Spencer Brickhouse hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning to give East Carolina a 4-3 lead, but North Carolina came back for a 5-4 win on Saturday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
It was the first loss of the season for the Pirates (5-1), who play the Tar Heels (3-4) in the deciding game of the series at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill at 1 p.m. today.
ECU won 2-1 in Greenville on Friday night.
The Tar Heels took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on Saturday on an RBI single by Michael Busch. UNC extended the lead to 3-0 in the third as Busch had another RBI single and Cody Roberts came home on a wild pitch.
Pirate pitchers struggled with control as the Heels drew 12 walks.
“The story, in my opinion, was too many free passes for our pitching staff,” said ECU coach Cliff Godwin. “That was just uncharacteristic of our guys. When you play a good team that has good pitching, it’s just tough to overcome that.”
A one-out double by Brady Lloyd got the Pirates started in the fifth. Turner Brown singled to bring in Lloyd and cut the lead to 3-1. Alec Burleson drew a walk before UNC summoned Austin Bergner to the mound. Brickhouse hit Bergner’s first pitch for his third homer of the season.
Bergner (2-0) stayed around to get the win.
Kyle Datres homered to tie the score at 4 in the sixth.
The Heels scored the winning run as ECU turned a double play in the seventh.
The Pirates had runners in scoring position in the last two innings but Josh Hiatt earned his first save as double plays stopped the threats.
Connor Litton had two hits for ECU as the Pirates totaled nine. Leadoff batter Dallas Tessar had three of UNC’s 10 hits.