Big moments by multiple Pirates
By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
A unique mix of recognizable hitters and a pitcher who hasn’t been used all season lifted the ninth-ranked East Carolina baseball team to a 12-7 win over Campbell at Clark-LeClair Stadium on Tuesday night.
The win, which took 3 hours and 23 minutes to complete due mainly to a 75-minute sixth inning, was sandwiched between a key weekend series win over Cincinnati and the Pirates’ big regular season-ending series at Connecticut that begins Thursday.
ECU sophomore Bryant Packard took the drama out of hit streak intrigue when he guided a single to right field in the first inning, tying the school record with a hit in 29 straight games. He finished 3-for-5 with three runs scored, and Dwanya Williams-Sutton also stayed hot by hitting two home runs to highlight his 4-for-4, four-RBI outing.
But the Pirates (38-13) trailed 6-3 in the top of the sixth when Evan Voliva, who had Tommy John surgery last spring, made his season debut and helped ECU out of a bases-loaded jam. It was 7-3 going into the bottom half of the sixth and ECU scored six runs of its own to take the lead for good.
“That was my probably my first time out there in 14 months so it was unbelievable,” said Voliva, who tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings for the pitching victory. “They said I was probably going to throw and to be ready, so I was ready when my name was called. The way those guys hit for me and everything, it’s about to choke me up because it has been a while.”
Packard hit a 2-1 pitch off Camels left-hander Phil Simpson in the bottom of the first, tying Stephen Batts’ record from 2007. It was Packard’s sixth straight game with a hit in his first at-bat.
“In the first at-bat they mostly try to get fastballs in there, but he actually hung a curveball and I jumped on it,” Packard, a 2016 D.H. Conley High School graduate, said. “It helps with Dwanya hitting behind me because he’s a big threat. … It’s good for media and stuff like that and we don’t really worry about it, but I will say that it is an honor and is really cool.”
The game stalled when ECU took a 3-1 lead into the sixth inning, which lasted more than an hour. Each team scored six runs and had 10 plate appearances in the frame.
Campbell (29-22) did it when the Pirates struggled to gets outs and used five pitchers in Willy Strong, Jake Kuchmaner, Sam Lanier, Zach Barnes and Voliva. The Camels’ six-run rally gave them a 7-3 lead.
The Pirates answered in very similar fashion in the bottom-half for a 9-7 edge. Packard, Spencer Brickhouse and Brady Lloyd all hit doubles, including Brickhouse’s two-bagger scoring Williams-Sutton for the go-ahead run. Connor Litton followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 9-7.
“I knew this one wouldn’t be easy and it isn’t when you are not going to throw the guys who are kind of your go-to guys in the bullpen,” Pirate coach Cliff Godwin said. “There were other guys going in there and that was good because it can make us deeper down the road. But offensively we had just to keep grinding out at-bats and having quality at-bats, and obviously Dwanya’s night was huge for us.”
West Covington, the only of the four seniors who didn’t play Sunday on senior day, made his first career start and tossed three scoreless innings.
Contact Ronnie Woodward at email@example.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.