Huge inning propels Pirates
By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector
Friday, May 12, 2017
One of baseball’s many timeless adages — “a bloop and a blast” — started that way for East Carolina during the bottom of the sixth inning Friday night and then turned into much more.
Eric Tyler gave East Carolina the lead with a go-ahead, three-run home run and the Pirates were prolific in tacking on runs for a nine-run inning and 11-4 win over Memphis to begin a weekend series between the bottom two teams in the American Athletic Conference. The nine-run bottom of the sixth was a season-high for runs in an inning by the Pirates (26-24, 5-14) and a season-high for runs allowed by the Tigers.
The game-changing rally started with Dwanya Williams-Sutton’s one-out single and then a walk by Charlie Yorgen to set up Tyler’s homer to left field for a 4-3 edge. Memphis (26-24, 6-13) used three pitchers during the frame, which included a Wes Phillips RBI double and three bases-loaded walks.
“I thought that was a great job because when a rally gets going like that, sometimes it can be tough to take four pitches,” Tyler said. “That was really impressive, just to see maturity all the way down the lineup.”
ECU sent 15 batters to the plate in the sixth.
Tigers starting pitcher Drew Crosby retired 11 straight leading up to the single by Williams-Sutton, who batted leadoff in the lineup and finished 2-for-4.
UM also held a 3-1 edge after Trent Turner’s three-run home run in the top of the fifth off Pirate ace Evan Kruczynski.
“It would have been very easy to feel sorry for ourselves after Kruz gives up the three-run homer,” ECU coach Cliff Godwin said. “But to come out and Dwanya have a great at-bat and then Charlie with a 3-2 walk and with two strikes, Eric put a good swing on it. Our response was bigger than the event, and that’s what we’ve been talking about all week.”
Kruczynski improved to 3-2 in his injury-abbreviated season by allowing three runs on seven hits in seven innings with eight strikeouts and a walk. Davis Kirkpatrick allowed one run in two frames.
Tyler wasn’t the only player to hit an important home run.
Spencer Brickhouse sent an opposite-field shot to left field for a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second. It was the freshman’s team-leading eighth of the season, but his first HR in league play and first since March 26 against Towson. He hit another solo shot to left field in the seventh for an 11-3 cushion and to finish his 2-for-3, three-run outing.
“Brickhouse is too smart for his own good at times and starts to overthink it, so during his batting practices we’re just trying to let it fly and really try to drive the ball the other way,” Godwin said. “I think that paid off tonight.”
Kruczynski had a rare four-pitch inning in the top of the fifth, when Tyler retired Kyle O’Keefe on a bunt to third base and then consecutive 6-3 groundouts to Turner Brown made for a very quick half-inning.
Contact Ronnie Woodward at email@example.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.