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Series ends with ECU rout

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Chris Holba pitches against Western Carolina. Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, February 25, 2018

CHAPEL HILL — Trey Benton’s pitching guided East Carolina baseball to a big win over North Carolina on Friday night in Greenville to begin their weekend series.

Chris Holba finished off the No. 6 Tar Heels in similar fashion Sunday afternoon at Boshamer Stadium, allowing two hits in seven scoreless innings to highlight ECU’s 12-0 rout of UNC in the rubber match of the anticipated series.

Sunday was the lone one-sided game of the weekend after Games 1 and 2 were each decided by one run. It was 0-0 after three innings before the Pirates (6-1) posted a three-run rally in the fourth and put the game well out of reach with five runs in the eighth to make it 11-0.

“Our mantra is to be where your feet are and I want our kids to enjoy it because this is a big win and they have earned it, but it’s only one game,” ECU coach Cliff Godwin said.

UNC (3-5) went 1-4 for the week and has started 0-3 at home for the first time since 1962. Sunday’s crowd of 2,925 featured plenty of Pirate fans.

“I’m happy for Pirate Nation and they have shown awesome support this weekend,” Holba said. “Yesterday was really fun and I wish we would have pulled that out, but I want to say thanks to the fans for all of their support because it was a fun weekend.”

Holba gave up two singles, the first of which was an infield hit up the middle with one out in the bottom of the sixth. Both of the hits off the junior right-hander were followed immediately by inning-ending double plays.

“I can’t take credit for that, but I know that’s just demoralizing for an offense,” said Holba, who shook off walking the first two batters he faced and finished with eight strikeouts. “That was huge for them to pick me up there.”

Sunday’s win gave ECU a series victory against a top-10 team for the second time in three years, joining an early 2016 series at No. 4 Virginia when the Pirates also won two of three.

The Pirates’ key inning came in the top of the fourth.

Spencer Brickhouse was ECU’s first baserunner of the day with a two-out walk. That was followed by Spencer Litton being hit by a pitch, a Chandler Jenkins RBI single to left field and Jake Washer ripping a two-run triple off the left field wall for a 3-0 lead.

Washer, the team’s starting catcher who also hit an RBI single in the sixth, finished 2-for-3 with a run scored, four RBIs and two walks. It was a nice bounce-back performance by him after Saturday night in Durham when he struck out and hit into two double plays in his three at-bats in a 5-4 defeat.

“Sometimes it goes like yesterday and sometime It goes well for you like today, and it’s just how baseball works,” Washer said. “We’re a very tough and resilient team, and yesterday didn’t faze us.”

Nine different Pirates scored, led by two runs apiece by Litton, Brickhouse and Bryant Packard.

Carolina starter Rodney Hutchison was in control during the first three frames, but ended up allowing three runs on two hits with four strikeouts and two walks in 3 2/3 innings.

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

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