Even with two delays totaling 63 minutes, the East Carolina baseball team’s offense couldn’t be slowed down as it amassed 16 hits, including two Dwanya Williams-Sutton home runs, in an 8-6 home victory against Liberty Tuesday night.
Lightning in the area pushed back the start of the game 45 minutes. Shortly after, Williams-Sutton brought the thunder. With Liberty (14-9) already leading 1-0, he led off the bottom of the first in the best way possible, a solo shot over the left field wall on a 1-1 count from Liberty’s pitcher Zander Clouse.
“It (hitting the home run) felt good, the crowd got me into it,” Williams-Sutton said. “My batting practice today wasn’t very good and being able to do that, coming out and give our team one run when they scored in the first inning, it made me feel good.”
Before tying the game for ECU (18-8) with his second home run of the season, Williams-Sutton put a little scare into the home crowd. The centerfielder looked a little shaken up after fouling off a ball, requiring ECU head coach Cliff Godwin and an athletic trainer to take a look at his thumb. Luckily for the Pirates, Williams-Sutton and his thumb passed inspection and he stayed in the game.
“When I fouled off the first pitch, I was a little nervous because it felt like the pain that I did when I first hurt my thumb,” Williams-Sutton said. “But I got back in the box and I competed and ended up with a home run.”
Williams-Sutton further demonstrated his thumb was fine by leading off the second inning with another blast to left field, landing it in almost the same spot as his first home run.
The talented sophomore wasn’t the only Pirate to have a good night at the plate. Including Williams-Sutton, six ECU players had at least two hits on the night. Spencer Brickhouse, Charlie Yorgen and Eric Tyler picked up three a piece, while Williams-Sutton, Tyler and Bryant Packard, had two RBI each.
Walks were an issue for the Pirates’ pitchers, who issued seven of them. Starting pitcher Jacob Wolfe walked five Liberty batters while West Covington also handed out two free passes.
“Wolfe definitely wasn’t sharp and put a lot of free base runners on,” Godwin said.
The Liberty players who were walked came home to score twice; the first was brought home on an Andrew Kowalo double and the second scoring off a ground ball to the shortstop after getting in scoring position because of two Covington wild pitches.
Heading into the eighth inning, up 8-3, ECU seemed to be cruising to victory but the Flames wouldn’t allow themselves to be extinguished so easily. They started the eighth with back-to-back singles. Matt Allen then crushed the ball, seemingly destined to sail over the left field wall, but Packard leaped high into the air, reached over the wall and completed a miraculous catch to rob a three-run home run from Allen.
Perhaps noting Packard’s ability for the spectacular, Sammy Taormina then came up to the plate and hit a three-run home run over the right field wall, cutting the Pirates’ lead to 8-6. However, Liberty’s rally ended there, as the Flames didn’t record another hit the rest of the game as Joe Ingle came through with his second save of the season.
ECU will next begin conference play with a home series against Connecticut, with Game One on Friday at 6:30 p.m.