GREENVILLE, N.C. – Bryant Packard drove in a career-high four runs, while Travis Watkins belted his third grand slam of the season helping East Carolina to a 15-8 American Athletic Conference opening series win over Tulane Friday night at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium. With the win the Pirates improve to 23-20 overall and 3-10 in league play, while the Green Wave fall to 21-22 and 8-5.
Evan Kruczynski (2-2) picked up the win despite allowing seven runs (all earned) on eight hits with three walks and three strikeouts in 5.2 innings. Ryan Ross worked two-thirds of an inning surrendering one run (earned) on two hits out of the bullpen and Davis Kirkpatrick tossed 2.2 scoreless frames with a walk and a pair of punch outs.
Corey Merrill (6-3) suffered the loss after allowing 12 runs (11 earned) on 10 hits with five walks and two strikeouts in 3.1 innings, his shortest outing of the season. Burton Schnake (3.1 IP, 2 Rs), Ted Andrews (0.2 IP, 1 R) and Chris Oakley (0.2 IP) closed out the game in relief for the Wave.
Eight of ECU’s starting nine tallied at least one hit on the night (14 total) with Packard leading the way with a 3-for-4 performance. Turner Brown, Andrew Henrickson, Watkins and Charlie Yorgen each registered two hits, while Eric Tyler extended his on-base streak to 29 games with a single in the second frame. All nine Pirates scored a run in the contest with Watkins crossing home three times. Brown and Tyler also drove in a pair, while Bryce Harman and Dwanya Williams-Sutton plated runs.
Tulane recorded 13 hits getting two hits each from Jarrett DeHart, Paul Gozzo, Hunter Williams and Grant Witherspoon. Grant Brown and Jake Willsey each hit solo home runs, while Gozzo and Kody Hoese drove in a pair.
How It Happened:
Watkins’ third grand slam of the season (fifth career) highlighted a six-run fourth stanza that gave ECU a 12-3 lead. Packard plated Dusty Baker with a RBI single through the right side on his third hit of the night for the first run. Williams-Sutton’s bases loaded walk scored Tyler before Watkins belted his sixth home run to clear the bases.
Tulane wasted little time in getting on the board pushing a run across in the first inning for a 1-0. Witherspoon reached on a soft single to center, took second on a Kruczynski balk, third on Lex Kaplan’s ground out to second and scored on Williams ground out to short.
Consecutive RBI doubles by Packard and Brown gave ECU a 2-1 lead in the home half of the first. Yorgen walked with one out and took second on Tyler’s ground out to third. Packard laced a two-base hit down the right field line pushing across Yorgen and Brown’s two-base hit down the left field line plated Packard.
ECU extended its lead to 6-1 thanks to five hits in the second inning. With the bases loaded, Tyler singled to right center scoring Henrickson and Bryce Harman. Packard followed with his second hit of the contest, an RBI single up the middle that plated Yorgen. Brown drove in the final run of the stanza with a single back up the middle plating Tyler.
Tulane got solo homers from Willsey (eighth of the year) and Brown (third) in the third and fourth frames pulling the Wave within three, 6-3.
Trailing 13-3 going to the sixth, Tulane put up four runs in the sixth and one in the seventh making it a 14-8 ball game.
ECU pushed across single runs in the sixth and eight to cap the scoring at 15-8.
ECU and Tulane will continue the three-game league series Saturday, April 29 with a 4 p.m. (ET) scheduled first pitch.