Pirates Pull Away Late, Take 2-1 Series Lead on Knights

Box Score (pdf)

GREENVILLE, N.C. - The Knights outhit the Pirates 13-11, but a 6-run first inning propelled seventh-ranked East Carolina to an 11-8 victory over the visiting UCF baseball team Saturday at Clark–LeClair Stadium.
Knights (18-21, 8-7) starter AJ Jones (L, 3-3) gave up six runs on four hits and two walks and never got out of the first inning as the Pirates (28-6, 10-1) sprinted out to the 6-0 lead.
Ben McCabe got a rally going in the second with a single to left, which was followed by a single up the middle by Gephry Pena. Both came around to score when John Montes drove them in with a single to right-center field, making it 6-2 in favor of ECU.
While reliever Billy McKay kept the Pirates off the board for two innings, UCF got three more across in the third to make it 6-5 after three. This time it was Josh Crouch starting things off with a leadoff single up the middle, McCabe following with a single to left, and Pena loading the bases with a single through the infield.
Alex Freeland drove in the first run of the frame, getting hit by a pitch, a sacrifice bunt from Montes brought in the next, and a sacrifice fly from Pablo Ruiz plated the third to put the Knights back in the game.
Ben Vespi replaced McKay late in the third, as UCF kept ECU from adding to their lead until the sixth when Thomas Francisco hit a solo shot to right field.
James Rathbone followed suit with a solo home run to right in the top of the seventh to make it 7-6, but the Pirates added two unearned runs in the bottom half of the inning to go up 9-6.
ECU then added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth, which proved to be exactly what the Pirates needed, because Crouch and McCabe recorded back-to-back homers in the ninth to make it close again, before Ryder Giles closed it out to give ECU the 11-8 home win.
Winning Pitcher: Cam Colmore (5-0)
Losing Pitcher: AJ Jones (3-3)
Top Pitchers: Billy McKay (2.1 IP, 2 K, 4 BB, 0 H, 0 ER), Ben Vespi (4.0 IP, 2 K, 1 BB, 5 H, 1 ER)
Top Hitters: Ben McCabe (3-5, HR, 1 RBI, 3 R), John Montes (1-3, 3 RBI)

  • It marked the third time this season UCF has recorded three or more home runs in a game and the first time since doing so on April 9 against Cincinnati
  • The Knights' three leaders in home runs hit homers on Saturday, as McCabe tallied his 11th, and Crouch and Rathbone each tacked on their eighth of the season
  • It was the 16th time in 39 games that UCF has recorded 10 or more hits, and the Knights are now a surprising 5-11 when doing so this season

Next Up
The Knights will conclude the series with ECU on Sunday at noon, looking to even things up with the Pirates, who have only lost one game to an American Athletic Conference team this season, which came on Friday to UCF.
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