East Carolina University baseball players Spencer Brickhouse and Turner Brown each had their best games of the season as the No. 10 ECU team’s offense exploded for 13 runs on 14 hits in yesterday’s 13-6 win over the University of Cincinnati, which tied the weekend series at one game each.
Brown had season highs in hits, doubles and RBIs with a 4-for-4 game with a home run and two doubles while driving in three runs. Brickhouse went 3-for-4 with a season high two home runs and drove in a season high six runs. ECU (36-13,12-8 AAC) moves up into a tie with USF for second in the conference again, while Cincinnati (26-23, 11-9 AAC) falls to a tie with UConn for third in the conference.
Brown continues to surge for the Pirates as the season winds down. Brown had an RBI single in the sixth inning to go along with his doubles and solo home run in the seventh inning. To show just how good Brown’s performance was against the Bearcats on Saturday, Brown entered the day with a .187 batting average and ended with a .210 average, climbing .23 points. Brown also had the big eighth inning double on Friday which put ECU ahead 3-2 before tallying two more Saturday. Brown had just one double on the season going into the series before hitting a double in three consecutive at bats, followed up by his third home run of the season.
Brown has consistently played well at shortstop this season for the Pirates, only committing 10 errors all season and having a .938 fielding percentage. ECU baseball head coach, Cliff Godwin said Brown played with an injured shoulder for a large part of the season.
“The guy plays hurt, plays with a shoulder popping out, plays sick at Memphis, the stuff that nobody talks about,” Godwin said. “There’s no tougher kid than Turner Brown, so he deserves all this success.”
Brickhouse continues to reemerge as a force for the Pirates after a rough stretch during the middle part of the season. Brickhouse hit two home runs Saturday, a three-run home run in the third and a solo home run in the fifth to go with a sacrifice fly in the sixth before capping it off with a two-run double in the eighth. Brickhouse started the season off by hitting three home runs and driving in nine runs in the Pirates first six games. Brickhouse then hit just one home run from Feb. 25 through April 21, but has now bounced back with four home runs since then.
This shows the depth of the ECU lineup, as the number nine hitter can have 4-for-4 games as well as the leadoff hitter having a batting average above .400. Bryant Packard started at the top of the lineup and led the game off for ECU with a home run, his fifth leadoff home run of the season which extended his hitting streak to 27 games. Packard also had an RBI single in the sixth inning. Conor Litton, hitting in the five spot for ECU, added his own solo home run right after the Brickhouse home run in the fifth inning. Litton added an RBI groundout later in the sixth inning.
“I mean it’s scary,” Brown said. “It’s tough having Packard, Dwanya (Williams-Sutton), Brickhouse and then you got Connor Litton and I mean it's just really tough to pitch to this lineup and it helps the guys at the bottom because they don’t want to pitch to them so they come to us a little more.”
ECU once again took a tough loss and bounced back in its next game like it has most of the season, according to head coach Cliff Godwin. Godwin mentioned losing to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Feb. 25 before winning by 12 runs the next day. ECU also lost to the University of Central Florida by eight on March 23 before winning by eight the next day, and lost to Wichita State University by 11 on March 29 before winning the next day again.
“Really, the only time when we haven’t responded would be the Houston weekend,” Godwin said. “That was the one thing. We lost a close game on Friday, and I would’ve been surprised if we hadn’t had responded today because this group is a pretty tough group.”
ECU even showed its bounce back ability within Saturday’s game. ECU went into the sixth inning up 6-1 before Cincinnati scored four runs in the top of the inning which made it a one-run game and also give Pirates fans a scare of blowing another lead. The Pirates bounced back in the bottom of the inning and matched the Bearcats four runs and got its lead back up to five.
ECU and Cincinnati are now poised for a rubber match on today at 1 p.m. at Clark-LeClair Stadium in Greenville after splitting the first two games. The game will have big conference standing implications, but Brickhouse thinks momentum will be in ECU’s favor after today’s big victory.
“Momentum is a big thing in baseball I feel like,” Brickhouse said. “When you get momentum going your way, it’s always good to have that in your back pocket as you go up there to hit just because you feel like the baseball gods are gonna help you out.”