RALEIGH — East Carolina left the potential winning run on base in the top of the ninth inning in a 5-4 loss at N.C. State on Tuesday night.
The No. 12 Pirates (29-12) had to play catch-up after the Wolfpack (26-14) scored five runs in the third for a 5-0 lead.
Trevor Candelaria had a 2-run homer in the decisive frame for the hosts.
ECU began its comeback with a sacrifice fly by Josh Moylan in the fifth that brought in Jacob Starling.
The Pirates pulled within 5-2 in the sixth when a ground out by Joey Berini scored Luke Nowak.
Jacob Jenkins-Cowart and Nowak drove in runs for ECU in the seventh to trim the lead to 5-4.
Jenkins-Cowart was hit by a pitch with one out in the top of the ninth. Coach Cliff Godwin called on Ryley Johnson to pinch run and Johnson moved to second on a wild pitch. Nowak walked on a full count pitch to put runners at first and second.’
Carson Kelly earned his first save with a strikeout and a fly out. P.J. Labriola (3-0) was credited with the win in relief.
Freshman left-hander Zach Root (3-2) was charged with the loss.
Starling went 3-for-4 with a walk and a double. Lane Hoover, Nowak and Justin Wilcoxen (double) had two hits each for the Pirates.
“It’s hard to give up five runs in an inning and win, but our guys competed,” Godwin said.
Each team had 10 hits, but the Pirates left 12 on base compared to seven for the Pack.
ECU hosts Tulane in an American Athletic Conference series starting Friday at 6 p.m., weather permitting. The Green Wave is 12-29 overall and 5-7 in league play. The Pirates are 7-5 in the AAC and are one game behind conference leaders Wichita State and Houston, who are each 8-4.