Quick starts have been the tail of the tape for East Carolina University’s (7-1, 0-0 AAC) baseball team over the last four contests. During their weekend sweep of Georgia Southern University (3-4, 0-0 Sun Belt), the Pirates plated a combined eight runs over three games. On Tuesday, ECU scored three of its seven runs in the first inning against Elon University (6-2, 0-0 CAA) in a 7-2 victory.
That's another ECU win! See you Friday at the 17th Annual Keith LeClair Classic. pic.twitter.com/mBWa9m69RA— ECU Baseball (@ECUBaseball) February 26, 2020
Homering for his second straight game, junior outfielder Bryson Worrell rocketed a ball over the left-center field wall in the Pirates’ first turn batting. On the heels of an RBI groundout from freshman infielder Zach Agnos, Worrell continued his torrid pace at the plate.
Now in ownership of ECU’s lead in the home run category with two, Worrell finds himself hitting well over .400 on the season with another multi-hit day in Elon, North Carolina.
“Bryson gets a swing off 2-0, you’re up 3-0,” ECU head coach Cliff Godwin told Gary Overton on the radio postgame. “The pitching was outstanding. Trystan Kimmel gave us a quality start, we knew he wasn’t going to go more than two innings.”
Just five batters into the game, ECU had already built a 3-0 lead that would hold up over the remainder of the afternoon. Using his junior right-handed pitcher Trystan Kimmel as a mid-week starter, Godwin signaled he would once again employ a bullpen day.
Forced to do that last Wednesday when junior left-handed pitcher Elijah Gill could not escape the second inning against Campbell University (3-4, 0-0 Big South), the Pirates’ bullpen has stepped up in a big way through the season’s first seven games, and Tuesday proved to be no different.
Two strong innings from Kimmel gave way to four perfect frames from redshirt senior right-handed pitcher Cam Colmore. The guy known for his funky delivery, Colmore soaked up a huge portion of the bullpen day. Perfect through his first three outings of the 2020 campaign, Colmore had not worked more than one inning prior to stepping on the mound Wednesday.
“Just great job from Trystan Kimmel, starting us off and bringing some momentum in our dugout with two shutout innings,” Colmore said. “We just talk about next man up mentality. He did his job, pass the ball to me, I did my job. Hand it to Parker (Boyle) and the rest of the guys did their job. Just great job by everybody tonight.
After Kimmel tossed just 29 pitches in his two innings of work, Colmore threw 46 pitches across four innings, 33 of which fell in for strikes. Working ahead of most hitters, the righty failed to allow an Elon baserunner while striking out a trio of hitters.
Displaying a disappearing changeup from a couple of different arm angles, Colmore retired all 12 batters he faced in order and helped extend ECU’s streak to 16 straight retired into the seventh inning.
“That makes it a lot easier when you’re getting ahead of guys,” Colmore said. “I made some good putaway pitches to finish guys and also my defense was great behind me tonight.”
After his fourth inning of work, junior right-handed pitcher Parker Boyle stepped on the rubber looking to preserve ECU’s slim but effective advantage. Garnering two quick outs, it looked as if the right-hander would continue keeping Elon’s offense off-balance.
That, however, quickly changed with a two-out base hit off the bat of freshman first baseman/outfielder J.P. Sponseller. Just the second Elon base knock of the evening at that point, it took an RBI double for the panic to truly set in for the visiting squad.
Plating Elon’s first run of the contest, the two-bagger chased Boyle from the game. Suddenly now a one run contest, sophomore right-handed pitcher Garrett Saylor finally logged the third and final out of Elon’s half of the seventh inning, putting a cap on the rally.
Unable to break through offensively since the first inning, ECU’s bats wasted no time in scratching back the two runs given up by Boyle. Three consecutive reaches from the middle of the Pirates’ order allowed them to plate four runs in response to Elon’s rally.
Nabbing runs on an error, sac fly, sac bunt and wild pitch, the Pirates sent eight batters to the plate and plated runs in just about every way except for an RBI hit. While ECU did log two hits in the inning, two runs came courtesy of mistakes by Elon as Worrell added his third RBI of the day with a long sac fly to center field.
Back up by five tallies, ECU turned to freshman left-handed pitcher C.J. Mayhue and freshman infielder/right-handed pitcher Skylar Brooks to finish the game. Between the two freshmen, only one hit was given up over the final two frames as Elon was put down quietly after their rally.
What figured to be a bullpen day for the Pirates ended up being the Colmore show as his work allowed Godwin to use only six pitchers on the day. In comparison, Elon needed four pitchers just to navigate the seventh inning in what was a 3-0 game at the time.
Despite Elon logging only one hit through six innings, they finished the game with five after their near comeback in the seventh. On the day, the home squad only garnered one at-bat with runners in scoring position as the Pirates went 0-for-5 in that category.
Nevertheless, the Pirates rode a 2-for-3 effort from Worrell and nine hits as a team to their seventh victory in eight tries this season. Without a gutsy performance from Colmore, however, all might have been for nothing while ECU’s four-run output in the eighth provided much-needed insurance down the stretch.
“Pirate defense and the Pirate pitching has carried the Pirates so far,” Godwin said. “Offensively, we are still a work in progress, and we’re pretty good, but we still got some work to do and we will. I’m just proud that the guys responded after we gave up two runs.”
The Pirates will be back in action on Friday when they kick-off the Keith LeClair Classic with a match-up against Indiana University (4-2, 0-0 Big Ten). First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in Clark-LeClair Stadium.