Pirates' streak halted in Durham
BY RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
DURHAM — East Carolina baseball’s lengthy winning streak against Duke fizzled away Tuesday at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The Blue Devils won the Top 25 matchup, leading wire-to-wire in a 7-2 victory for their first over the Pirates since Feb. 9, 1998. It stopped the Pirates’ 17-game win streak in the series.
Duke (12-5) scored five runs off Gavin Williams in the first inning, and its bullpen held off No. 14 ECU’s comeback attempt, firing the final 4.1 scoreless innings with two hits allowed and six strikeouts.
“There was just not enough quality at-bats and I didn’t think our guys played with an edge,” ECU coach Cliff Godwin said.
Reliever Jake Kuchmaner was great again for ECU (12-6), keeping the Pirates within striking distance for most of the game. Kuchmaner, who nearly no-hit Ole Miss last week in 8.2 innings, went 5.2 innings and yielded one run on one hit with six strikeouts and three walks.
Williams faced nine batters in a one-inning start, allowing five runs on five hits for the biggest blow by 24th-ranked Duke. The sophomore hard-thrower came into the game with a 1-1 record and 2.57 ERA in three starts.
“He was up in the zone and down the middle, which are things he hasn’t done this year,” Godwin said. “He has located his fastball, but scouting reports get out when you start and there’s more video now than ever. You can’t just show up and throw balls down the middle to a good team.”
Alec Burleson was 2-for-4 with the visitors’ lone RBI. He plated Ryder Giles to make it 5-2 in the fifth.
The Devils out-hit the Pirates 9-4. Ethan Murray was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI.
Three of the first five Duke batters in the opening inning sprayed singles to the outfield. No. 8 hitter RJ Shreck’s two-run double to the gap in right-center field with two outs made it 5-0.
Kuchmaner took over to begin the bottom of the second.
“I was just trying to change momentum and get us back in the dugout and get the offense to try and score some runs,” he said.
Duke starter Cooper Stinson was solid for four innings, then wildness cut his outing to 4.2 frames during the top of the fifth. The Pirates got a baserunner to third base with no outs thanks to a hit batsman, walk and passed ball, but a lineout directly to the second baseman resulted in a tough-luck double play. Burleson’s RBI single off reliever Kyle Salley then made it 5-2 Devils.
ECU scored single tallies in the third and fifth innings.
“It happened all throughout the game and we just kept lining out, which was a good thing for us, but nothing was falling for us,” Burleson said. “They made a diving catch, and their balls were just finding holes.”
Salley, Hunter Davis and Thomas Girard all pitched in relief for Duke. Davis pitched the seventh and eighth, yielding one hit with two strikeouts and a walk.
Contact Ronnie Woodward at firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.