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Pirate comeback to clinch?

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East Carolina's Dwanya Williams-Sutton, left, scored the go-ahead run during the eighth inning on a wild pitch Wednesday against Tulane in Clearwater, Fla.

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The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A gutsy and wild comeback Wednesday afternoon for East Carolina at the American Athletic Conference baseball tournament in Clearwater, Fla., might have assured that the Pirates will be smiling Sunday night when the 16 NCAA regional hosts are announced.

ECU advanced to the AAC semifinals in dramatic fashion in dropping upset-minded Tulane to the losers’ bracket with a five-run rally in the top of the eighth inning for a 6-5 win. The comeback victory was part of the AAC’s use of two fields to play six games Wednesday ahead of heavy rain expected later in the week.

The updated scheduled calls for ECU (41-15) to play its semifinal contest against the Tulane-Houston winner at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday.

ECU mainly struggled for hard contact against Green Wave junior right-handed starter Kaleb Roper, who struck out a career-high 11 batters in 7 2/3 innings, but the Pirates rallied against Roper and Ben White, and they scored four of their five runs in the eighth with two outs.

It was 4-2 Tulane (25-32) when ECU got a two-out RBI single by Bryant Packard. Spencer Brickhouse’s RBI single tied it, and Dwanya Williams-Sutton raced home on a wild pitch and dove head-first into the plate barely ahead of the tag for a 5-4 edge.

Williams-Sutton’s run created the Pirates’ first lead of the game.

Jake Washer provided the final RBI base hit, scoring Brickhouse to make it 6-4.

Roper left the mound when his club was leading 4-3 and he ended up being charged with five runs on five hits in 7 2/3 innings.

The Wave was in position to win behind Roper’s dominant pitching for seven innings and a pair of two-run home runs by Grant Witherspoon, whose second shot to right field in the bottom of the seventh gave Tulane a 4-1 cushion. Tulane upset league champion Houston on Day 1 of the tournament and was looking to make a clean and surprise trip to the semifinals.

East Carolina’s RPI ranking improved to No. 12 briefly Tuesday after beating Central Florida and was back to 13th Wednesday. Its win total and RPI has it in position to host a regional at Clark-LeClair Stadium for the second time in school history and first since 2009.

Trey Benton entered the game in a tough spot with the Wave leading 2-1 and the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the fifth. He struck out Trevor Jensen, the No. 3 hitter in Tulane’s batting order, and induced a 4-3 groundout to keep it a 2-1 deficit.

Pirate starter Alec Burleson pitched 4 1/3 innings and yielded two runs on two hits with four walks and two strikeouts. Benton went 1 1/3 scoreless frames.

ECU used six pitchers, including previously-injured Evan Voliva making his second appearance of the season and getting his second pitching victory by getting the final two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Jake Agnos recorded his first save when he pitched the final two innings and gave up one run — in the eighth — on one hit with three strikeouts, no walks and a wild pitch.

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Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

ECU

July 16, 2018

CARY — The 16th annual Bill Dooley Pigskin Preview followed tradition Monday and turned into part comedy act by the five coaches involved and part serious football talk.

East Carolina third-year coach Scottie Montgomery and N.C. Central interim coach Granville Eastman were joined by Atlantic…

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July 16, 2018

Speaking engagements and vacation time for college football coaches will turn into full preseason practices in less than a month, but for now there is still some balancing of obligations.

First-year East Carolina defensive coordinator David Blackwell has worked on specific details with his players…

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July 15, 2018

David Blackwell has coached college football at Pittsburgh and South Florida, which is located in Tampa.

He said it was easy to recognize that the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL are kings in those cities.

He also is a former East Carolina football player and student…

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July 14, 2018

The Cuba team put together an abundance on runs Saturday for a 15-4 victory over the visiting USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, but USA still finished its summer with a 12-3 record and won all three of its international series.

The Americans featured East Carolina head coach Cliff Godwin as…

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July 12, 2018

The success of a profitable NCAA baseball regional held at Clark-LeClair Stadium in June and positive vibes from fans at recent Pirate Club armada events had officials optimistic at Thursday’s Athletics and Advancement Committee portion of the East Carolina Board of Trustees meeting, but the…

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July 12, 2018

East Carolina standout and Greenville native Bryant Packard went 2-for-4 as the leadoff hitter in Game 1 for the USA Collegiate National Team in the USA vs. Cuba series in Havana, Cuba, on Tuesday night.

Game 2 on Wednesday night saw ECU pitcher Jake Agnos throw four innings with three…

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July 12, 2018

July is a big month for college football fans to soak up preseason hype in the form of magazines, predictions and projections of all kinds.

These things have not been kind already to East Carolina, which has posted consecutive 3-9 seasons under coach Scottie Montgomery.

The Phil Steele Preview…

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July 11, 2018

A major “wow moment” happened for Blake Taylor before he even teed off last Thursday at The Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., for his PGA Tour debut.

It came Tuesday during a practice round for the East Carolina rising junior while playing with PGA veteran Jim Furyk.…

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July 10, 2018

East Carolina men’s golf coach Andrew Sapp is the president of the Golf Coaches Association of America, and serving in that role put him in Avion, France, last week.

He was there for the Arnold Palmer Classic, which is a Ryder Cup-style event for college golfers, while current Pirate…

Greenbrier Golf

July 09, 2018

East Carolina football hit double-digits for the month of June alone in verbal commitments from recruits.

The significance of this is magnified with most of July as a recruiting dead period enforced by the NCAA, which also typically leads to coaching staff members across the country to use vacation…

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