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Pirates take series in walk-off

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East Carolina players celebrate a run during a home game against Memphis Sunday, May 14, 2017.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, May 14, 2017

With the Sunday 4 p.m. American Athletic Conference baseball travel curfew rule approaching, East Carolina put a final charge in a low-scoring game and beat Memphis 3-2 in 11 innings around 3:40 p.m. on Turner Brown’s walk-off single to take the rubber matchup against Memphis at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

It also was the Pirates’ second one-run victory of the season. The other came March 3 against Western Carolina during the LeClair Classic.

ECU (27-25, 6-15) was eyeing a 2-1 win, but the Tigers scored once in the top of the ninth to create extra innings. From there, an inning could not have started after 4 p.m.

The Pirate 11th began with a Charlie Yorgen single and walks to Kirk Morgan and Travis Watkins set the stage for Brown to hit a grounder up the middle that was slightly bobbled by second baseman Zach Schritenthal, ensuring Brown and all baserunners to reach safely.

“Travis picked up me (during the celebration) and I was just excited that it got through,” said Brown, who had two RBIs for the Pirates and Andrew Henrickson had the other. “I felt like I was going to beat it out anyway, but you know, we’ll take it.”

ECU coach Cliff Godwin was especially proud of the grit his team showed after UM (27-25, 7-14) created extras, calling it “old Pirate baseball.”

The Pirates’ final two relievers were Matt Bridges and West Covington, who went a combined 5.2 innings and allowed one run on three hits. Covington (2-1) tossed 2.2 scoreless frames.

“I’ve been thinking that Bridges has been close to looking like himself. He was electric yesterday and then you throw him back out there and he really was out of gas, but I tried to extend him and steal another inning (in the ninth),” Godwin said. “Then West Covington came in and he’s from Memphis, so that was pretty cool for him.”

ECU starter Jake Agnos tossed 82 pitches in five frames and gave up one run on four hits with four strikeouts and two walks.

The Tigers trailed 2-1 and loaded the bases in the sixth on Sam Lanier, getting two hits and using a walk to chase Lanier and bring on Bridges. He struck out Jason Santana and then got Kyle O’Keefe to fly out to get out of a key jam.

In the ninth it was Covington who saw Tyler Webb tie the game with a single up the middle, but he followed by inducing a double play with the bases loaded to keep it tied at 2-2.

“This week has been tough on them, physically and mentally, and this season has been tough on them, physically and mentally,” Godwin said. “A lot of teams would have folded, but these guys are continuing to fight until the last strike and the last out.”

Watkins charged the Pirate offense with a one-out double in the bottom of the fifth. He and Spencer Brickhouse later scored on sacrifice flies hit by Brown and Henrickson.

East Carolina remains in last place in the AAC and is now one game behind Memphis. The Pirates conclude league play with a series at Connecticut, and UM hosts Tulane.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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