GREENVILLE — In his sixth year in the East Carolina baseball program, Matt Bridges’ last game at Clark-LeClair Stadium was special.
Bridges got a strikeout at 12:56 a.m. on Monday to complete a 9-6 win over Maryland (30-18) for an NCAA regional championship. Bridges became the starting point for the ensuing dogpile. Much of a crowd of 5,017 stayed to see the celebration.
The game was scheduled for 6:06 p.m. Sunday, but didn’t get underway until 8:36 p.m. because of a shower that left puddles on the dirt portion of the infield.
ECU (44-15) was designated the visiting team due to NCAA regulations and took the lead for keeps on back-to-back doubles by Thomas Francisco and Josh Moylan in the top of the first. Alec Makarewicz had an RBI single for a 2-0 lead in the opening frame.
“It’s been a long year with COVID and having to go through protocols, and 4-game weekends in the conference,” said seventh-year Pirates coach Cliff Godwin. “This is the most battle-tested group under my watch, because they’ve been through a lot.”
The biggest test — and biggest opportunity — for the Pirates, seeded No. 13 for the NCAA Tournament, will be the program’s sixth Super Regional next weekend at fourth-seeded Vanderbilt. Godwin was an assistant for the Commodores and coach Tim Corbin in 2004 and 2005.
Vandy outlasted Georgia Tech, 14-11, in 11 innings to win the Nashville regional.
The Pirates will be coming off their best offensive output of the regional against the Terps. The run production continued Sunday night with lone tallies in the second, third and fourth.
Seth Caddell hit his 14th home run of the season in the second for a 3-1 lead. Zach Agnos had a sacrifice fly that brought in Francisco in the third. Moylan was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the fourth for a 5-2 lead.
Agnos had a 2-run double in a 3-run eighth after Moylan was safe at first on an attempted double play, which allowed Ryder Giles to score.
Caddell came home on a ground out by Francisco in the ninth.
The Terps got a pair of solo homers from second baseman Matthew Shaw against the Pirates. Maxwell Costes hit a 2-run homer in the eighth.
Moylan and Agnos each had a hit and three RBIs for ECU. Caddell had three hits and scored three runs.
Cam Colmore (7-1) got the win in relief and Bridges recorded his fifth save. Bridges had two saves and a win in the regional.
Colmore and Bridges have been on three regional champions — 2016, 2019 and 2021.
“We’re not done,” Bridges said. “We’re looking to do something that ECU has never done (win a Super Regional). We’re going to soak this in and get ready for next weekend.”
Maryland eliminated Charlotte with a 2-1 win in the first game Sunday afternoon before the weather delayed the night game.