ELON, N.C. – After rallying to claim an 8-7 lead with three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Elon Phoenix saw the visiting East Carolina Pirates score four unearned runs with two outs in the top of the ninth as ECU picked up an 11-8 win at Latham Park on Saturday, March 14.
Elon (8-8) trailed 7-5 entering the bottom of the eighth before beginning a two-out rally. Joey Tomko and Chris King started the rally with back-to-back singles before Ryan Cooper drove an 0-1 pitch deep over the wall in left to put the maroon and gold in front 8-7.
The elation felt by the Phoenix was then snuffed out by East Carolina (12-6) in the top of the ninth. Elon closer Joe McGillicuddy retired the first two hitters of the inning before a fielding error allowed pinch-hitter Luke Bolka to end up at second base. Hunter Allen followed with a single through the left side of the infield to tie the game and raced to second on the throw to the plate. Garrett Brooks followed with another single to put the Pirates back on top, 9-8. With runners on first and second, Bryce Harman lifted a towering fly ball into left-center that was lost in the twilight sky by the Phoenix outfield and fell in for a two-RBI double that gave ECU a three-run cushion.
McGillicuddy (0-1) was charged with the loss as he gave up four unearned runs on three hits in one inning.
East Carolina’s Reid Love (2-1), who had blown the save in the eighth, threw the final two innings to pick up the win. He allowed three runs on five hits.
The Pirates jumped out to an early 5-0 lead after having batted twice. ECU got three runs on three hits and three Elon errors in the first before a Luke Lowery two-run homer in the second.
Elon trimmed its deficit to 5-3 in the last of the second thanks to a two-RBI single from Nick Zammarelli and a run that scored on a double play.
Trailing 6-3 going to the bottom of the seventh, Cooper doubled with one out and then scored on a Zammarelli single. An ECU error would later allow Zammarelli to score to make it a 6-5 contest.
Cooper finished a triple shy of the cycle, going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBI. Zammarelli also went 3-for-4 with three runs driven in for Elon.
The Phoenix and Pirates will wrap up the three-game series with a 1:30 p.m. tilt on Sunday at Latham Park.