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Powerful Pirates even series

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East Carolina's Spencer Brickhouse talks to head coach Cliff Godwin during the ECU-Cincinnati game Friday. May 11, 2018.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Baseballs flew out of Clark-LeClair Stadium with ease at times Saturday afternoon, continuing a weekend theme between Cincinnati and East Carolina, and it was the Pirates who powered their way to a 13-6 win in Game 2 of their American Athletic Conference series.

Bryant Packard led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run and Turner Brown capped his breakout 4-for-4 game in the bottom of the seventh with a two-run shot to deep right field. In between those dingers, Spencer Brickhouse hit two homers and Connor Litton had one to give the Pirates a total of five in the win to stop a six-game AAC losing streak at home.

Cincinnati (26-23, 11-9) stole a 4-3 victory Friday night behind two solo homers in the top of the ninth.

No. 10 ECU (36-13, 12-8) did it in a more methodical fashion Saturday with four homers during the first five innings for a 6-1 lead and its offense remained fruitful the rest of the way. The hosts finished with 14 hits and they didn’t commit an error.

“We’ve talked about how throughout the year we’ve responded when we’ve been kind of knocked down,” Pirate coach Cliff Godwin said. “Really the only time that we haven’t responded was the Houston weekend (in a sweep). ... I would have been surprised if we hadn’t have responded well today because this group is a pretty tough group.”

The long ball helped the Pirates, but it ended up being a string of singles and a Seth Caddell double in the sixth inning that allowed them to gain adequate breathing room.

It was 6-2 ECU in the top of the sixth when Cole Murphy hit a three-run home run off Zach Barnes to cut it to 6-5.

East Carolina then rallied against new reliever Jalen Wade in the bottom-half, getting five straight hits from Brady Lloyd, Caddell, Brown, Packard and Dwanya Williams-Sutton. Brown and Packard hit RBI singles for an 8-5 lead.

Brickhouse’s sacrifice fly made it 9-5 and Connor Litton’s RBI groundout  gave ECU a 10-5 lead.

Packard’s hit streak was extended to 27 games with his home run and he finished 2-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored. The six RBIs by Brickhouse (3-for-4) were a career-high.

“Momentum is a big thing in baseball,”  said Brickhouse, who like Packard is a sophomore. Brickhouse upped his season home run total to nine while Packard is at 12. “That can all start with a defensive play. You have a defensive play and can have momentum coming back in and you feel like you can hit anything they throw up there.”

Brown scored three runs and had three RBIs from the No. 9 spot in the batting order.

“Coach Godwin always tells us that if we just keep barreling balls up, then it’s going to find holes,” he said. “Like today, I got some barrels and found some holes and that felt really good.”

ECU freshman starter Alec Burleson (4-1) pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up four runs on five hits with five strikeouts and a walk. Reliever Davis Kirkpatrick faced three batters and got one out on a strikeout for the second straight day, lowering his season ERA to 0.96.

Jake Agnos will start the series finale for the Pirates with Tyler Smith on the mend and inactive this weekend.

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

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