ECU's 17 Hits Fall Short In Loss To FIU, 6-4

UABSPORTS.COM Sophomore Like Lowery
Sophomore Like Lowery

May 3, 2014

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GREENVILLE, N.C. - Luke Lowery's three-hit performance, which included his fourth home run of the season, led East Carolina's 17-hit attack but fell short as FIU claimed a series win, 6-4, Saturday night at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium. With the win, the Panthers improve to 33-12 on the year and 13-10 in Conference USA play, while the Pirates fall to 28-20 overall and 13-10 in league action.

Trailing 2-1 in the top of the fifth inning, FIU scored three runs to take its first lead of the contest at 3-2 and held off a potential ECU rally in the ninth inning. The Panthers sent eight hitters to the plate, which produced five hits, including RBI singles by Edwin Rios and Zach Sweety. With one out and runners on second and third, Julius Gaines lifted a Ryan Williams pitch to center scoring Roche Woodard and knotting the game at two-all. Josh Anderson followed with an infield single before Rios drove in J.C. Escarra with a base hit down the right field line and Sweety followed with a bunt single that plated Anderson.

Gunnar McNeill (1-0) picked up the win in relief allowing a pair of runs (both earned) on four hits in 1.1 innings of work. Starter Cody Crouse gave up just two runs (both earned) on 10 hits in four innings. A trio of relievers in Charles Cormier (1.1 IP, 2 H), Mitchell Davis (1.1 IP, 0 H) and Mike Gomez (1.0 IP, 1 H) tossed 3.2 scoreless frames to seal the series victory. Gomez notched his seventh save of the season and became the Panthers all-time saves leader with 24.

Brett Mabry (4-2) took the loss for the Pirates working 4.1 innings where he allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits with a walk. Williams, who made his 27th appearance out of the bullpen, allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits with a pair of strikeouts in 4.2 frames.

ECU jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second when Bryce Harman scored on fielder's choice. Harman, who was 2-for-3 on the night, reached on an infield single to short and took third on Lowery's single to right center. Harman darted home when Garrett Brooks reached on a fielder's choice to second where Lowery was called out on the same play.

The Panthers responded in the top of the third when Woodard scored on a passed ball tying the game at one-all. Woodard reached after being hit by a Mabry pitch and landed on third on Escarra's single to right center before crossing home on the Pirate miscue.

Lowery put the Pirates up 2-1 when he smacked his fourth home run of the year to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning, depositing a 1-2 offering from Crouse over the leftfield wall.

Harman's team-leading fifth home run with two outs in the fifth stanza pulled ECU within one at 4-3. But once again FIU responded with a two-spot in the top of the sixth extending its lead to 6-3. Escarra has an RBI single to left that plated Alec Beyersdorf and Anderson scored Escarra on a ground out to second base to account for both runs.

Drew Reynolds' RBI fielder's choice pulled ECU within two, 6-4, in the bottom half of the sixth inning. Brooks led off the inning with a double to right field and advanced to third on Charlie Yorgen's single through the right side before coming home on Reynolds' at-bat.

The Pirates had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. With Zach Houchins sitting on first base, Ian Townsend took a Gomez pitch deep to right center, but Sweety made the catch for the second out of the frame just two feet from the wall. Dylan Brown followed with a single putting runners at first and second with two outs, but pinch hitter Ben Fultz grounded out to first to end the game.

Offensively 10 of ECU's 11 batters collected hits on the night and six had multi-hit games with Lowery stroking a team-high three.

ECU will look to salvage the series when it plays host to FIU in game three on Sunday afternoon with a 1 p.m. (ET) first pitch slated.