GREENVILLE — Quinnipiac put East Carolina in comeback mode early and dealt the Pirates a 5-4 loss in the opening round of NCAA regional play on Saturday.
The Bobcats (30-27) were seeded fourth for the regional while ECU was the top seed. The Pirates (43-16) will face No. 2 N.C. State in an elimination game at noon today. Quinnipiac and third-seeded Campbell have a winners bracket matchup at 4 p.m.
The times are based on the regional staying on schedule, which hasn’t been the case thus far.
The Camels (36-19) completed a 5-4 win over the Wolfpack on Saturday in a game that got underway on Friday. State (42-18) had the potential tying run at second base after the contest was restarted from a weather delay in the middle of the ninth.
ECU also got the potential tying run to second in the bottom of the ninth. Bryant Packard singled with two out and Turner Brown drew a walk.
Alec Burleson sent a grounder to second that resulted in the final out.
“Too anxious,” Burleson said. “I got myself out.”
Burleson had taken a home run cut on the first pitch he saw from Colin Donnelly in the final frame.
Donnelly got a save after Chris Enns (7-5) pitched the first sixth and two-thirds innings.
Jake Kuchmaner started for the Pirates and lasted just one and one-third innings after allowing five hits, including a first-inning home run by Evan Vulgamore that gave the Bobcats a 2-0 lead..
Burleson was super in relief, coming to the mound from right field in the eighth and striking out three with the bases loaded.
“I had the mindset that they weren’t going to beat me,” Burleson said.
Evan Voliva (5-4) yielded a 2-run homer to Liam Scafariello in the seventh and was charged with the loss.
Bryson Worrell had a solo homer for ECU in the eighth to get the Pirates within 5-4.
Each team threw a runner out at the plate in the sixth inning. Burleson pegged to catcher Jake Washer to get Vulgamore as he tried to score from third on a fly to right.
Washer doubled to start the sixth for the Pirates. He tried to score from second on a single to right by Brady Lloyd.
“I coach aggressively,” said ECU’s Cliff Godwin. “I’d send him again and make them make a play.”
Packard went 3-for-5 as ECU had nine hits. Burleson was 2-for-5.
“Great atmosphere,” Packard said.
Attendance was listed at 4,785.
“We need Pirate Nation back again,” Godwin said.
ECU will be the home team against the Wolfpack with junior left-hander Jake Agnos (10-2) scheduled to start for the Pirates.
Godwin said Gavin Williams, who threw 44 pitches Saturday, would be the only hurler who might not be called on. Kuchmaner left early enough to possibly make another appearance in the regional.
The Pirates’ path to the regional title will require pitching depth.
“We’ll see how everyone feels,” Godwin said. “I’m not going to hurt anybody to get a win.”
The Pirates and Bobcats had a 2-hour rain delay on Saturday.