GREENVILLE, N.C. – After surrendering six runs in the eighth, the No. 12 North Carolina baseball team (4-2) lost to the No. 11 East Carolina University Pirates (4-1), 6-5, on Friday night at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
The bats started slow for both the Pirates and the Dimond Heels as each team saw two frames of three up, three down.
In the top of the third, with no offensive mojo to be seen, junior transfer Jackson Van De Brake shook the frost off his bat by smashing a solo shot over the left field wall on a 2-2 count. Third baseman Mac Horvath doubled a few bats later pushing junior Colby Wilkerson into scoring position, but no runs resulted.
The bottom of the fourth inning saw offensive and defensive playmaking from both sides. Lane Hoover notched the first hit for ECU on a hard ground through the second base gap. After a steal appeal by the Pirates, it took four pitches to end the inning: two strikes, a flyout, and a rundown at third.
Van De Brake took the reins in the top of the seventh and hit a dropping line drive double down the first base line to advance Hunter Stokely, who was hit by a pitch earlier in the frame. A strikeout later and Wilkerson launched a double towards the left field wall scoring two.
The Pirates broke their offensive silence in the bottom of the eighth with a pair of doubles from Josh Moylan and Joey Berini to bring ECU within one run of the Diamond Heels.
The Pirates pulled the level to the Heels in the bottom of the eighth as UNC went deep into the bullpen in search of a game-closing performance, going through Dalton Pence, Cameron Padgett, Ben Peterson, and Nelson Berkwich.
The equalizing run was earned on a fielding error by freshman pitcher Padgett. A double to center field by Jacob Starling propelled the Pirates to then pull ahead by two runs. ECU continued their offensive rampage as Starling stole two bases and was brought home by Luke Nowak on a shot through the third base gap.