The East Carolina University baseball team opened up its three-game series against the University of Maryland with a 4-0 victory at home.
After two scoreless innings from both teams, ECU got on the board with two runs, thanks to a single to left field by sophomore designated hitter Bryant Packard, who was playing in his first game since March 7, bringing in junior second baseman Brady Lloyd and junior right fielder Chandler Jenkins.
Early on, sophomore pitcher Trey Benton was not in his usual groove. He had a runner on third and with two outs almost gave up a two-run homer, but senior left fielder Drew Henrickson robbed the Terps, making a spectacular catch to end the threat and the inning.
In the top half of the seventh inning, the bases were loaded for the Terps and the Pirates were in danger of letting Maryland get back into the game, but Benton got two strikeouts, then was replaced by senior pitcher Ryan Ross. Ross closed out the seventh inning by forcing a ground out, keeping the Terps scoreless and down 3-0.
“In that situation you can’t afford to walk a guy, you have to pitch for contact,” Ross said. “Lucky enough they put it on the ground and we got a groundout. Those are the moments you live for and that’s what you have to prepare for.”
In the eighth inning, with the game pretty much decided, junior shortstop Turner Brown, who played in his first game since March 10, cracked a solo shot to right field, his first homer of the season, giving the Pirates the 4-0 lead entering the ninth inning.
Benton had another good game by pitching 6.2 innings, surrendering nine hits, but did not allow any runs or walks in the game while striking out eight batters. Ross closed out the game by allowing only one hit, and striking out four batters.
“Coming out, I think that my stuff was not as electric as it had been,” Benton said. “I was going out there trying to get weak contact and give my team a chance to win early. As soon as the runs came on the board, my throws jumped up a bit. Coach Rozel called a good game, and then Ross came in and slammed the door behind me to close it out, so it felt good to get the win tonight.”
This is the third game of the season where they did not allow any runs, thanks to the ECU bullpen and the outfield.
“It was a well played game by our team tonight,” head coach Cliff Godwin said. “Our pitchers did a great job just throwing a ton of strikes. We played great defense behind them, and had a lot of web gems as well. That gave the pitching staff a lot of confidence to throw strikes on the mound.”
ECU and UM will kick off game two tomorrow at 4 p.m. in Clark-LeClair Stadium, as the Pirates look to win their 15th game out of the season and the series victory against the Terps.