GREENVILLE, N.C. – Lex Kaplan reached base five times and Hunter Williams belted a two-run homer as Tulane held off a late East Carolina rally to even the American Athletic Conference series with a 5-4 victory Saturday afternoon at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium. With the win the Green Wave improves to 22-22 on the year and 9-5 in league play, while the Pirates fall to 23-21 and 3-11.
J.P. France (4-3) picked up the win after allowing just one run (earned) over 7.1 innings with three walks and five strikeouts. Christian Colletti notched his seventh save of the season despite surrendering three runs (two earned) on two hits in 1.2 relief innings.
Trey Benton (3-3) suffered the loss giving up three runs (all earned) on five hits in four-plus innings with a walk and three strikeouts. The Pirates would use five hurlers in relief getting outings from Sam Lanier (1.0 IP, 0 Rs), West Covington (1.1 IP, 1 R), Matt Bridges (2.0 IP, 1 R), Jacob Wolfe (0.0 IP, 1 BB) and Tyler Smith (0.2 IP).
Kaplan led all Tulane hitters going 3-for-3 on the day with a pair of walks, an RBI and a run scored. Jarrett DeHart and Williams both hit their ninth home runs of the season, with DeHar’ts coming moments after Williams’ two-run shot in the first inning. Grant Witherspoon collected two hits, scored once and drove in a run as well.
Eric Tyler and Travis Watkins each had two hits for the Pirates with Tyler reaching base three times and extending his on-base streak to a personal-best 30 games. Luke Bolka hit his seventh home run of the season, a two-run shot, which came in the ninth inning as a pinch hitter. Bryce Harman and Wes Phillips also plated runs on the day.
How It Happened:
Tulane wasted little time in getting on the board scoring three runs in the top of the first for a 3-0 lead. Williams belted a two-run homer, his ninth of the season, down the left field line scoring Kaplan just in front of him. DeHart followed with a solo home run to right field, which was also his ninth of the year.
Harman put ECU on the board with an RBI single in the second inning that cut Tulane’s lead to two, 3-1. With two outs, Dwanya Williams-Sutton was hit by a pitch and took second on Andrew Henrickson’s walk. Harman delivered with a two-out RBI base hit through the left side plating Williams-Sutton.
Kaplan’s third hit of the contest gave Tulane a three-run advantage, 4-1 in the seventh inning. With one out, Grant Witherspoon tripled to right center before strolling home on Kaplan’s single to center.
Tulane got a huge insurance run in the top of the ninth when Witherspoon singled through the right-side scoring Hunter Hope for a 5-1 lead. Hope reached on a base hit back up the middle and took second on Paul Gazzo’s sacrifice bunt before coming around on Witherspoon’s second base knock of the contest.
The Pirates rallied in the home half of the ninth plating three runs and pulling within one, 5-4, with one out in the frame. Watkins single to left and took third when Williams-Sutton reached on a fielder’s choice coupled with a Wave error. Phillips pinch-hit sac fly to center pushed across Watkins making it a two-run game. Bolka followed stepping to the plate and homering to deep left field scoring a pair of Pirate runs.
ECU and Tulane will conclude the three-game league series Sunday, April 20 with a 3:36 p.m. (ET) first pitch that will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network.