The Pirates showcased their power hitting, as they hit three home runs to defeat La Salle 8-4 Saturday, and push their record to .500.
For the sixth straight game, the Pirates (3-3) took an early lead, but unlike in their series against Ole Miss, they extended their lead and held on to get the win. East Carolina first got on the scoreboard in the second inning, via a Travis Watkins home run that just crept over the right field wall thanks to strong gusts of wind.
The Pirates then blew the game open in the third inning. After ECU loaded the bases, La Salle (0-6) head coach Mike Lake had a meeting on the mound with his starting pitcher, C.J. Pruitt. Lake’s words didn’t have much effect, as the next Pirate batter, Luke Bolka, promptly crushed a fastball over the right field wall for a grand slam and a 5-0 lead.
“He happened to leave one away and the wind was blowing away today,” Bolka said. “I’ve been practicing staying inside the ball. I stayed inside of it, got my best swing off, and the wind blew it out.”
While the Pirates were building up their lead, La Salle’s bats were kept quiet by ECU starting pitcher Jacob Wolfe. The Explorers went 4 1/3 innings before getting a hit. Wolfe seemed to take giving up a hit personally, as the pitcher immediately picked off the base runner after he took an aggressive lead off of first base.
Wolfe continued mowing down La Salle’s hitters, until the sixth inning. At that point, Wolfe walked two batters and then gave up a three-run home run to Yan Carlo Rivera, which caused ECU head coach Cliff Godwin to pull Wolfe. From that point, Sam Lanier and Jake Agnos combined to close out the game.
The Pirates’ offensive depth continued to impress, as they got a big hit from a pinch hitter for the second game in a row. After coming in for Bryant Packard in the seventh inning, Wesley Phillips hit a ball just over the sprawling left fielder’s glove for a two-RBI double. This was after Kirk Morgan and Phillips delivered big hits as pinch hitters in Friday’s win against La Salle.
“Coach Godwin preaches everyday that everybody gets opportunities and he doesn’t know exactly when you’re going to get an opportunity, but when it does make the most of it,” said Phillips. “I think he does a great job of preparing everybody on the bench to be prepared all game. I think that’s what’s really helped us a lot this year and helped me out.”
The Pirates’ offense will become even deeper once Dwanya Williams-Sutton and Bryce Harman return from their thumb and wrist injuries, respectively.
The Pirates will go for the series sweep Sunday at 2 p.m. at Clark-LeClair Stadium. Trey Benton is expected to get the start.