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Pirates nip Foxes in 12th

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East Carolina's Turner Brown, left, throws to second base during a game against Marist on March 8, 2019. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Christian Smallwood came off a chilly bench on Saturday night and sent a fireball over the head of Marist left fielder Frankie Gregoire to complete a long-distance comeback and a 4-3 East Carolina baseball victory.

The walk-off base hit clinched another series win for the Pirates (11-5), who trailed 3-1 after five innings but notched single tallies in the bottom of the sixth and eighth innings to force extras. With one out in the 12th, Turner Brown and Lane Hoover traded singles before Smallwood’s one and only at-bat of the night.

“I came up and I was obviously trying to win the game, but I got two strikes on me so I was just trying to put the ball in play and got something up that I could drive,” Smallwood said. “It ended up working out.

“I was staying loose (in the dugout) and obviously, there are going to be nerves coming off the bench, but I was ready to go.”

Sam Lanier, the final of four ECU pitchers in the game, got the win after two scoreless innings. Also throwing up zeroes in relief of starter Tyler Smith were Alec Burleson and Evan Voliva.

The Pirates pounded out 15 hits, led by Brown’s 3-for-4 game that featured a solo home run in the sixth. Also, Brady Lloyd and Bryson Worrell finished 2-for-5, while Hoover’s double in the eighth set up the game-tying run as part of a big 2-for-3 night.

“We had to pitch great tonight to just stay in the game, and offensively, it was tough treading against (Marist starter Tony Romanelli), but I thought we put some very good swings on balls,” ECU head coach Cliff Godwin said of his team’s come-from-behind win. “We had a lot of quality at-bats early with runners in scoring position, and that’s baseball, and you’ve got to fight through it. I thought our guys showed a lot of toughness today to get through that.”

Tyler Kapuscinski led Marist (4-7) with a 3-for-5, two-RBI performance, and Reece Armitage added two hits.

The Red Foxes took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Armitage doubled and came home on Kapuscinski’s single. After Seth Caddell’s game-tying single for ECU, Marist posted a pair in the top of the fifth that included another Kapuscinski RBI single and a run-scoring groundout by Randy Taveras.

Brown led off the sixth with a solo shot to left, and ECU pinch hitter Thomas Francisco tied the game with a groundout that scored Hoover to make it 3-3 in the eighth.

“It shows a lot of toughness by our team,” Brown said. “A lot of guys came off the bench. We talk about it all the time, to make sure you’re ready when your name is called. Those guys did amazing. Lane Hoover comes off with two hits, Smallwood with the walk-off. It’s great to get a win like that.”

The series concludes today with a 1 p.m. first pitch.

Contact Nathan Summers at nsummers@reflector.com, 252-329-9595 and follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.

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