Despite a pair of sub-par performances for East Carolina University’s baseball team’s offense over the last couple days, possibly due to windy conditions, the Pirates split their weekday games after defeating Elon University last night, but losing to Virginia Commonwealth University on Tuesday.
It was evident the windy conditions had an affect on the Pirates’ offense, recording only four hits against Elon. The wind caused a lot of routine fly outs for both the Pirates and Phoenix, but it ended up working in favor for the Pirates.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, with the game tied 1-1, the wind carried a routine pop out in shallow right field, to the edge of the first base line dropping for a lead-off double for designated hitter redshirt sophomore Jake Washer.
Junior Dwanya Williams-Sutton came in to pinch-run for Washer, advancing to third base on a sacrifice bunt from junior second baseman Brady Lloyd. With one out and the winning-run just 90-feet from scoring, senior right fielder Drew Henrickson hit a sacrifice fly to shallow left field, just far enough for the speedy William-Sutton to edge out the throw at home to secure the 2-1 walk-off win.
“(I’m) really proud of the guys today in showing a lot of toughness,” head coach Cliff Godwin said. “With the wind blowing in, and cold temperatures, they could have packed it in, but they didn't.”
Freshman left-handed starter Jake Kuchmaner (1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 2 K) only lasted 1.2 innings, but the Pirate bullpen carried the load the rest of the way behind the arms of junior right handers Matt Bridges (2.1 IP, 2 Ks), Sam Lanier (1.0 IP, 1 K), redshirt senior West Covington (1.0 IP, 2 BBs) and redshirt senior Davis Kirkpatrick, who picked up the win after pitching a shutout in the final three innings.
According to Kirkpatrick, he didn’t let the windy conditions affect the control of his pitches but he also used it to his advantage by pounding the strike zone, knowing the batters are affected by the cold.
“The weather is always a factor. I mean you control what you can control but definitely on the cold days you want to attack the zone,” Kirkpatrick said. “I’m not really thinking about the wind too much. I’m taking it pitch by pitch and just attacking the hitter the way I can.”
ECU had similar offensive issues on Tuesday’s game against VCU, recording just three hits against the Rams in a 3-0 shutout loss, snapping its most recent five-game winning streak.
The Pirates dealt with cold and windy conditions like they did in last night’s game, leaving their offense more stagnant. The Ram’s pitchers combining for just 105 total pitches was more of the reason for ECU’s shut out, according to Godwin.
“Their pitchers were really good and you have to take your hat off to them. They were better than us today, definitely on the mound,” Godwin said. “I thought our guys were ready to play but we didn't execute as well as we should have offensively.”
From a hitter’s perspective, junior third baseman Connor Litton believes it was more of the Pirates offense than VCU’s pitching. He said they were just unable to gain any momentum from first pitch swinging outs and not getting any guys on base.
“It wasn’t as much as what they did do, it’s what we didn’t do,” Litton said. “I mean we were hitting pop flys when we needed to be hitting ground balls. We didn’t put good multiple at-bats together. I mean we had one good at-bat followed by a pop-out or strike out so as a team I think we need to do better at that.”
The Pirates will look to start a new winning streak tomorrow night at home, starting a three game series against the University of Maryland (9-7) at 6:30 p.m.