Pirates fall in 10th in Tampa
The Daily Reflector
Saturday, May 6, 2017
At the start of the bottom of the 10th inning of Saturday night’s baseball game in Tampa, Fla., East Carolina and South Florida both had four runs, nine hits and no errors.
USF’s 10th hit — a triple by Kevin Merrell off Ryan Ross — paved the way for the Bulls to win 5-4 in the 10th on a night when ECU trailed 4-0 and showed fight with three home runs to create extra innings.
ECU (24-23, 4-13 AAC) is 0-2 in the series against the 24th-ranked Bulls (36-10, 11-6 AAC) with the losses by a combined three runs.
Matt Bridges took over for Ross (0-1) after the triple and nearly got out of the jam, but David Villar’s bases-loaded single to right field with two outs scored Merrell for the win.
The hosts ran up Pirate starting pitcher and freshman Trey Benton’s pitch count early and led 4-0 after a three-run bottom of the fifth.
Home runs then guided East Carolina’s comeback. Eric Tyler started it with a two-run home run in the sixth, Bryce Harman’s solo shot in the eighth made it 4-3 and Travis Watkins started the top of the ninth with a homer to left-center field. Watkins finished 3-for-5.
Benton struck out seven batters with one walk and four runs allowed on eight hits in 4.2 innings and 105 pitches. Bulls starter Shane McClanahan, also a freshman, went seven frames and struck out 13.
Sam Lanier was superb for the Pirates, relieving Jacob Wolfe during the sixth and retiring all 11 of his batters. He struck out six.
Merrell finished 4-for-5 with three runs scored.
Tyler was 2-for-5 with two RBIs and Harman 2-for-4.