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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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ECU

September 18, 2018

East Carolina’s football team had a rare opportunity to be unified and fully concentrated on watching South Florida play at Illinois last Saturday, a game that ended with the Bulls rallying for 18 points in the fourth quarter for a 25-19 win and 3-0 start to their season.

ECU sought safe…

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September 18, 2018

A win at a Pac-12 opponent, a shutout and then a record-setting outing on offense.

Cincinnati is 3-0 and riding high in the American Athletic Conference football ranks, following a Week 1 upset at UCLA with a 21-0 win against Miami of Ohio and then Saturday it beat Alabama A&M 63-7 behind a…

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September 17, 2018

The use of FaceTime on phones has been invaluable for the East Carolina football team, which avoided the direct hit of Hurricane Florence when it left for Orlando, Fla., last Wednesday but in many ways still is dealing with the aftermath.

That is especially true for players who have family in…

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September 15, 2018

East Carolina football is under reconstruction.

For the first time last Saturday, some progress was evident on the field inside the Pirates' home stadium currently surrounded by scaffolding and temporary fencing. That is evidence of a bold $60 million upgrade in the works.

The men who wear the…

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September 15, 2018

East Carolina was in last place for the first two installments of the American Athletic Conference writers’ power rankings, but after the Pirates’ 41-19 rout of North Carolina they moved up to ninth.

ECU (at Virginia Tech) and league frontrunner UCF (at N.C. State) had their games…

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September 14, 2018

There was a play last Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium when a North Carolina safety was staring at an East Carolina backfield with two guys totaling 463 pounds on a third-and-3 play near midfield.

The UNC safety keyed on the wrong player during the read option, chasing after 6-foot-3, 236-pound…

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September 12, 2018

East Carolina’s football team bused from Greenville to Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday and will remain there until its next game.

The Pirates’ game Saturday at Virginia Tech was canceled Tuesday because of Hurricane Florence and a release by ECU on Wednesday referenced issues of…

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September 11, 2018

East Carolina’s football game scheduled for Saturday at Virginia Tech will not be played because of Hurricane Florence.

ECU sent out a release Tuesday at 4:45 p.m. stating that none of its teams will travel to games because of significant and imminent safety concerns. The release also said…

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September 10, 2018

Like many people in North Carolina, the East Carolina football team is taking a day-to-day and even hour-to-hour approach as it transitions from Saturday’s rivalry win over North Carolina to this Saturday’s game at Virginia Tech with the threat of Hurricane Florence looming.…

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September 10, 2018

Just two weeks into the season, the American Athletic Conference has already done its usual by knocking off some notable Power Five opposition, including three during the weekend.

Exemplifying that trend on Saturday was Houston’s high-flying trouncing of Pac-12 member Arizona. In that game,…

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