GREENVILLE — A two-run homer by Connor Litton in the bottom of the first helped light the offensive fuse for East Carolina in a 16-7 NCAA regional win over UNC-Wilmington at Clark-LeClair Stadium on Friday night.
The top-seeded Pirates (44-16) will meet second-seeded South Carolina (33-24) in the winners bracket on Saturday at 5 p.m. The Gamecocks topped Ohio State 8-3 in the opening game of the double-elimination event Friday.
The third-seeded Buckeyes (36-23) play the fourth-seeded Seahawks (37-22) in an elimination game Saturday at noon.
Litton finished 3-for-4 with four runs batted in as ECU collected 17 hits. Andrew Henrickson had a hit and three RBIs as the Pirates were able to subdue the Seahawks for the third time this season.
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Jake Washer had three hits and scored three runs. Bryant Packard had three hits and scored twice.
Also driving in runs were Dwanya Williams-Sutton, Spencer Brickhouse, Bryson Worrell, Washer, Brady Lloyd, Alec Burleson and Turner Brown.
“We wanted to keep the pressure on,” said Pirates coach Cliff Godwin.
ECU accomplished that objective with a four-run first inning that was capped by Litton’s blast to right. The Pirates scored at every turn at the plate except for the sixth inning.
Ryan Ross (4-4) was credited with the win in relief of starter Chris Holba, who went four and one-third innings. Ross went the next two and two-thirds frames with five strikeouts. West Covington went the last two innings on the mound. ECU hurlers totaled nine whiffs.
The Pirates played errorless defense while UNCW was charged with three miscues.