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Pirates drop opener at USF


The Daily Reflector

Friday, May 5, 2017

East Carolina squandered a couple of leads on Friday night in Tampa, Fla., allowing host South Florida to bull its way back into an eventual 8-6 USF win to open the teams’ American Athletic Conference series.

The Pirates (24-22, 4-12 AAC) carried a 3-0 edge into the bottom of the third inning, but that’s when the AAC-leading Bulls (35-10, 10-6) started chipping away, plating five runs over the next two frames, then shattering a 5-5 impasse with a three-run seventh against the ECU bullpen.

Dwanya Williams Sutton hit a double, a home run and drove in three in the loss for ECU, while Eric Tyler added a double as part of his two-hit outing.

An RBI single off the bat of Bryce Harman in the second put the Pirates on the board, and in the second, Tyler and Williams-Sutton both roped run-scoring doubles to extend the lead to 3-0.

But USF countered in the bottom of the third to pull within a run, thanks to Kevin Merrell’s bases-loaded groundout and an ensuing balk by ECU starter Evan Kruczynski, who allowed five runs, all earned, while yielding eight hits in six innings.

Tyler Dietrich’s RBI single brought home Chris Chatfield from third after his triple to start the USF scoring in the fourth, then Andres Leal doubled home a run and Coco Montes singled home one more to give USF the first of its two leads in the game, 5-3. ECU then answered with a pair in the fifth when Williams-Sutton crushed a two-out, two-run home run to again knot the game.

The final difference came in the seventh, when the Bulls took the lead for good on Duke Stunkel’s RBI single and a bases-loaded, two-run hit from Dietrich.

The Pirates pulled one run back in the eighth on Charlie Yorgen’s RBI single, but that is as close as they got. In the ninth, Turner Brown led off with a single to bring the potential tying run to the plate and pinch hitter T.J. Riles drew a two-out walk, but USF reliever Joe Cavallaro shut the door by getting Kirk Morgan to ground out to end the game.

The series resumes tonight at 6:30.