by Will Pitts
The Eastern Carolina Pirates flexed their muscle Friday night at Bob “Turtle Smith” Stadium against the Maryland Terrapins. Showing why the pollsters ranked them as the 17th-best in the nation, they overpowered Terrapins starter Hunter Parsons for six early runs and coasted to a 9-0 win in the first of a three-game set
The Pirates disturbed Parsons’ rhythm from the outset, taking an early lead on a sacrifice fly by Alec Burleson. The doors truly blew off in the third inning, as ECU battered away at Parsons for five more runs, including a demoralizing three-run homer by Jake Washer. Parsons hardly helped matters by plunking two Pirate batters in the inning, in an uncharacteristic display of poor control that meant two of the five runs surrendered in the inning were unearned.
While Parsons regained himself and went on to pitch four scoreless innings before exiting, it was too little and too late, as ECU’s Jake Agnos did just enough to hold Maryland off the scoreboard through seven innings of his own. While the Pirates’ starter was not infallible, as the Terps proved by notching six hits, their efforts came to nothing. In the two innings following ECU’s five-run explosion, Maryland placed runners on second and third, and both times came away empty-handed. In the fourth, the Terrapins worked two runners on with one out. Right when Maryland needed a boost, however, Agnos got out of the jam by striking out Justin Vought and A.J. Lee in order.
ECU effectively sealed the game in the eighth by grabbing three insurance runs at the expense of reliever Sean Heine. The first came on a Lane Hoover double which brought home Bryant Packard. Two batters later, Spencer Brickhouse homered to extend the Pirates’ lead to nine.
In all, five different hitters delivered RBIs for East Carolina, while six different runners crossed the plate. Packard menaced the Terrapins all night long, going four for five and scoring three of ECU’s nine runs. Burleson, despite going 0 for two, still recorded two RBIs – both on sacrifice flies. Eric Odum’s strikeout of A.J. Lee to end the game could not have come soon enough; two minutes after the final pitch, rain fell over College Park, and ECU players scrambled onto their charter bus.
“If we just come out with a fresh mind [in the next game] we’ll be okay,” said Vought. “I think we’ve just gotta come out and put good at-bats together, and have our pitchers throw strikes, and we’ll be alright.”
“I think our approach coming into this game was good,” said Maryland pitcher Andrew Vail. “I think if the hitters stick to their approach…as long as we go off our plan coming into this weekend…that’s all that matters.”