The East Carolina University baseball team lost to the University of Houston 6-5 today after a ninth inning rally, a loss which head coach Cliff Godwin said “embarrassed” him.
“It really wasn’t close,” Godwin said. “I’m embarrassed we played the way we played today. I’m the head coach, it’s my fault because they weren’t ready to play. It’s as an uninspired of a baseball game that I’ve been associated with here at East Carolina.”
No. 7 ECU (30-12, 8-7 AAC) was down 6-2 going into the ninth inning, but three straight walks loaded the bases for the Pirates. After a strikeout, sophomore outfielder Bryant Packard lined a double to right field which scored two runs and cut the deficit to two. Godwin inserted a pinch hitter into the game to get a left handed batter up against a pitcher who does well against right handed batters, and he was somewhat rewarded with a sacrifice fly to to make the game 6-5. Sophomore infielder Spencer Brickhouse came up with the tying run at second base, but lined out to end the game.
ECU’s offense was limited to only five hits, but did draw seven walks from Houston pitchers. Senior outfielder Andrew Henrickson and freshman infielder Alec Burleson both drove in runs during ECU’s two run inning in the fourth inning that provided a 2-0 lead. Packard’s two run double and freshman outfielder Jeremy Whitehead’s sacrifice fly gave ECU its three runs in its ninth inning rally attempt.
On the mound, sophomore pitcher Tyler Smith got the start for the Pirates. Smith gave ECU 4.2 innings of work, and gave up two runs on three hits. Senior pitcher Ryan Ross got the loss out of the bullpen for ECU, as he gave up two runs in 1.1 innings. Ross (0-3) gave up two singles which scored one and left one runner on base before he was removed for junior pitcher Sam Lanier. Lanier managed just eight pitches and walked a batter before giving up a three-run home run and being subsequently pulled.
Brayson Hurdsman (2-4) got the win for Houston (28-16, 13-5 AAC) by throwing 3.2 scoreless innings of relief for the Cougars, and Joey Pulido got his second save of the season. Houston’s offense was powered by the three-run home run from Joe Davis.
Packard’s double in the ninth extended his hit streak to 20 games, but he said it “doesn’t matter” in a loss. Packard agreed with Godwin that the Pirates did not play up to their standard in today’s or yesterday’s losses.
“We did a good job in the ninth inning I guess but the whole last two days we’ve been awful,” Packard said. “We haven’t had as much energy, well we’ve had energy, but at times when it doesn’t matter. We gotta come out there from the beginning, be tougher than we have been this weekend and play like we did Friday and we’ll be alright.”
This weekend is just the second series loss of the season for ECU, as the first came against the University of South Florida. Houston’s win today pushed its win streak against the Pirates to eight games dating back to last season, this weekend’s sweep and four games from last season.
ECU will resume play next Friday when it travels to New Orleans for a AAC series weekend with Tulane University. The first game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Friday.