East Carolina defeated Alabama, 3-1, in day one of the DRASH Alabama Baseball Classic and followed by handling Oral Roberts, 4-2, on Saturday.
The Pirates moved to 10-3 on the year and they cap tournament action with an 11 a.m. (ET) contest against No. 14 Louisville on Sunday. Junior right-hander and St. Thomas, Virgin Islands native Jharel Cotton will toe the rubber for ECU while Louisville counters with Travis Tingle. Both hurlers enter the tilt with 2-0 records.
Here's more insight into the victories over Alabama and Oral Roberts as well as additional coverage of tomorrow's game against the Cardinals.
East Carolina 3, Alabama 1
- Senior lefty Kevin Brandt continued his impressive work as the staff ace with a dominant performance Friday night against the Crimson Tide. The Fuquay Varina, N.C., native threw eight innings giving up one run (earned) on six hits while striking out seven. Dating back to his previous start against Stony Brook, Brandt had tossed 12 consecutive scoreless stanzas before Alabama scratched out a run in the fourth inning.
- Brandt's 2012 Totals: 3-1, 1.21 ERA, 29.2 IP, 7 R (4 ER), 6 BB, 24 K; Opponents' Batting Average - .192
- Drew Reynolds was the only Pirate to record a multi-hit performance. He got the start as the designated hitter. Chase McDonald recorded his first start of the year at first base as John Wooten was sidelined due to an illness. Jay Cannon also sat out with a stomach ailment.
- Senior third baseman Corey Thompson delivered the decisive blow with a two-out, two-run double in the third scoring Ben Fultz and Bryan Bass who had reached after singles. McDonald provided the Pirates further cushion with an RBI single extending ECU's lead to 3-0. Alabama could only muster a single run against the Pirates.
- Sophomore Tanner Merritt pitched the ninth recording his second save of the season. He also notched the save in last Sunday's series finale against Stony Brook.
East Carolina 4, Oral Roberts 2
- Tyler Joyner preserved his unblemished record with another sterling effort on the mound Saturday afternoon. He held Oral Roberts to a single run - a solo home run in the top of the sixth. The junior lefty is now 3-0 with a 1.12 ERA. He has tossed 24 innings giving up just a trio of runs while issuing five free pases and fanning 16 batters.
- Merritt recorded his third save in as many chances after entering the game with the go-ahead run at the plate for the Golden Eagles, Merritt retired the only batter he faced notching his third save of 2012.
- Andy Smithmyer saw action on the mound in Saturday's triumph. 2012 Totals: 9.0 IP, 9 H, 2 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 10 K
- Reynolds collected a career-best three base hits, marking five hits for the Cherryville, N.C., native through the tournament's first two games.
- Seven of the Pirates' last eight games have been decided by two runs or less. The only game in which the margin was greater than a pair of runs was an 8-2 setback at the hands of Troy on Wednesday night. In games decided by two runs or less this year, East Carolina holds a 6-2 record with wins over Stony Brook (three), Western Carolina (one), Alabama (one) and Oral Roberts (one). The losses came against Purdue (6-4) and Maryland (2-1).
- The Pirates were led offensively by senior catcher Zach Wright. Wright delivered a two-run double in the sixth to break a 1-1 tie and plated the Pirates' first run with an RBI single. Wright is now batting .250 and is tied with a team-best three doubles. It was his second game-winning hit of the season. Ironically, his GW double against Western Carolina earlier this year was a two-run double in the sixth as well.
- The Pirates now have eight players with at least five RBIs: Thompson (11), Tim Younger (6), Cannon (6), Philip Clark (6), Jack Reinheimer (6), Wooten (6), McDonald (5), Wright (5).
Check out the '10th Inning' after tomorrow's game for more coverage of East Carolina's tournament finale against the Louisville Cardinals.