East Carolina Pirates Baseball

Mendoza’s overturned homer leads NC State over ECU, 6-1

A controversial home run by Evan Mendoza gave NC State an early lead, but two late runs secured the victory in a 6-1 victory for the Wolfpack over East Carolina. The win came less than one week after a 15-3 drubbing for the Pirates in Greenville on Tuesday.

Mendoza finished the game 2-for-4 with a run and four RBI to lead the Pack to the win, but all anyone wanted to talk about after the game was the homer. Mendoza stroked the pitch to the left field foul pole, where it was initially called a foul ball by the third-base umpire. After both NC State’s third-base coach Chris Hart and head coach Elliott Avent argued the call, it was overturned.

The immediate reaction was elation for NC State and dismay for East Carolina. Pirate head coach Cliff Godwin argued his case before eventually being guided back to the dugout by the home plate umpire.

Meanwhile, Mendoza was honest about his initial thoughts on the hit.

“I thought it was foul,” Mendoza admitted. “And then I saw the first base umpire say it was foul. … I’m not the biggest power guy, so I don’t get ahold of balls too often. First thought was, ‘You gotta be kidding me. Foul ball?’

“I guess that was the correct call.”

Funny, because that’s exactly what the third base umpire thought as well. But after a meeting with his two partners, the call was changed. It was a weird situation for Godwin, who had rarely seen a call changed, much less a home run.

“The explanation was they were trying to make the right call,” Godwin said. “It’s the third base umpire’s call. I’ve been involved in two situations where an umpire has flipped another umpire’s call and been on the losing situation both times. Their job is to make the right call. Was it the right call? I don’t know.”

The official who overturned the call was home plate umpire Greg Street, who has called College World Series games and serves as the MLB AAA evaluator. With countless college baseball games under his belt, Street was commended by Avent along with divulging some, let’s say unique, details.

“I think Greg Street is one of the best umpires in college baseball,” Avent said with a smile. “The third-base umpire admitted he didn’t see it. He just didn’t see it. I think he had the decency to let the home plate umpire know he didn’t see it. … That takes a lot of courage and respect for the game.”

Avent later revealed the third base umpire told Hart that nugget of information later in the game.

While the homer was the story of the game, Mendoza’s RBI single in the eighth put the Pirates to rest with six runs on six hits. Ryan Williamson, normally NC State’s Sunday starter, went 6 2/3 innings with one earned run while scattering six hits.

Six days after the Pack bullpen was shelled by the Pirates, Evan Brabrand, Travis Orwig and Tommy DeJuneas combined to allow just two hits and no runs over the final 2 1/3 innings. It was a night of redemption for NC State in a series that is equally as important as any ACC opponent on the schedule.

“Everyone knows we played them last week and they got the better of us,” Mendoza said. “We all were there. We knew how we lost. We told ourselves we weren’t going to lose like that again.

“I think this is probably as big of a series as Clemson or UNC. It’s almost a regional feel.”


Follow NSJSports on Twitter.

East Carolina baseball routs NC State at home, 15-3

GREENVILLE, N.C. — Every East Carolina starter reached base in a 15-2 blowout win over NC State on Tuesday night at Clark-LeClair Stadium. The victory marked the fourth straight midweek win over an in-state rival — but none more important than taking down the No. 8 Wolfpack.

The No. 20 Pirates (24-12, 5-4 AAC) used three huge innings in the second, fourth and sixth to put the game out of reach for NC State (26-11, 10-6 ACC). With a combined three home runs, 12 RBI and six runs by Zack Mozingo, Turner Brown and Bryce Harman, ECU’s hot hitting propeled the Pirates to their seventh win at home in the last 10 games.

“It’s nice to get a win over a huge in-state rival,” Brown said. “It helps the RPI, it helps everything. It’s just a huge win. … We didn’t like the feeling against UNC, so we weren’t going to let another in-state rival beat us.”

ECU opened the game with one run in the first as Parker Lamm advanced home on a wild pitch by Johnny Piedmonte. The Pirates chased Piedmonte in the second, who was on the hook for three earned runs on three hits over 1 1/3 innings after an RBI single by Turner Brown and sac bunt by Charlie Yorgen.

The Pirates’ five-run fourth was started by a Mozingo two-out grand slam. Chris Williams was nearly off the hook with two outs, but an error by Joe Dunand allowed Mozingo to break the game wide open.

Another error by Dunand in the fourth allowed Travis Watkins to reach second after the throw to first base went out of play. Harman made the Pack pay with an RBI double laced down the right-field line to give the Pirates an 8-0 lead after the fourth.

“That was my first [grand slam], so I finally got that out of the way,” Mozingo said with a smile. “I just knew it was big time because they just made an error. I needed to capitalize on the error they made, so I was just sitting curveball and put a good swing on it.”

While ECU’s pitching staff scattered six hits and gave up just two runs, NC State’s bullpen was a revolving door. Piedmonte’s early exit triggered a long night for the Pack that saw eight total pitchers toe the rubber.

The Pirates hitters peppered the Pack’s pen with 14 hits, but four errors by State infielders were key in the rout. On the night, State pitchers allowed nine earned runs of the 15 total with a shaky defense behind them.

After a disappointing 17-4 showing in a loss at home against North Carolina earlier this season, the blowout win in front of 4,734 fans was a welcomed sight for ECU coach Cliff Godwin.

“I’m just happy that we were able to play well in front of a packed house,” Godwin explained. “And just show Pirate Nation we can play in front of a packed house unlike UNC. … That’s what you sign up for when you come to ECU — to play in front of big crowds.

“I tell them, ‘Hey look, if you don’t like pressure, you shouldn’t play with East Carolina. You shouldn’t put the purple and gold on.”

Despite the loss, NC State has a chance to get right against NC A&T, which dropped to 9-31 on the season on Tuesday. ECU travels to High Point on Wednesday before hosting UConn in Greenville over the weekend.

The Pack will be looking for revenge next Tuesday night as the Pirates travel to Raleigh. After getting hosed by ECU on the road, a home win would be vindication for the Pack. A loss would mean the first two-game sweep for ECU since 2009 — giving the Pirates bragging rights for the next year.


Follow NSJSports on Twitter.

ECU baseball staves off late UNCW rally for 9-6 victory

When the lights come on, the bats heat up for East Carolina.

The Pirates proved just that with a 9-6 win over in-state rival UNC Wilmington at Clark-LeClair Stadium on Tuesday night. ECU’s win was its fourth in the last five games dating back to an 8-6 win over Duke in Durham.

Meanwhile, UNCW’s loss ended a six-game winning streak including a 6-4 win over NC State at home.

After slumping earlier in the season against Rice and North Carolina, the Pirates have surged behind a consistent offense. In the last two games, ECU has outscored its opponents 21-2 and has confidence heading into a massive AAC showdown with Houston at home.

East Carolina outfielder Eric Tyler (25) runs towards first base during a game against UNC Wilmington at East Carolina on Tuesday, March 29, 2016. The East Carolina Pirates defeated the UNC Wilmington Seahawks 9 - 6. (Madeline Gray/North State Journal)
East Carolina outfielder Eric Tyler (25) runs towards first base during a game against UNC Wilmington at East Carolina on Tuesday, March 29, 2016. The East Carolina Pirates defeated the UNC Wilmington Seahawks 9 – 6. (Madeline Gray/North State Journal)

“We’re buying into our approach before every game,” Pirates third baseman Eric Tyler said of the team’s offense. “We’ve had quality at-bats, putting the barrel on the ball and good things are happening. … We’ve played the best of the best and we’re ready for conference play.”

Coming off his first career multi-home run and ECU-record eight-RBI game against Jacksonville on Saturday, Tyler finished 4-for-4 with a double, two runs and one RBI, reaching base in all five at-bats.

Yeah, six hits, four runs and nine RBI over two games is pretty good. Tyler’s average has jumped 39 points from .284 to .323 since over the last two games alone.

“In baseball, you kind of ride a hot streak when you’ve got it,” Tyler said with a smile. “I could go 0 for my next 30 at any time. … I’m just focusing on seeing it and hitting it.”

ECU took an early lead on a three-run third inning sparked by a Bryce Harman single to bring in Tyler for the first run. Dwanya Williams-Sutton and Harman scored later in the inning to take a lead the Pirates would not relinquish.

UNCW punched in a Steven Linkous RBI single in the third to score Robbie Thorburn, but ECU starter Jacob Wolfe was nearly untouchable from that point on. After a rough outing against Jacksonville, Wolfe allowed just two earned runs on six hits over 6 1/3 innings with five strikeouts.

Expected to be the Sunday starter against No. 15 Houston this weekend, Wolfe finished with 74 pitches against Wilmington. ECU coach Cliff Godwin, a former UNCW assistant, knows how important a win over the Seahawks is for the fan base.

UNC-Wilmington outfielder Robbie Thorburn (22) slides into home plate to score a run against East Carolina on Tuesday, March 29, 2016 at East Carolina. The East Carolina Pirates defeated the UNC Wilmington Seahawks 9 - 6. (Madeline Gray/North State Journal)
UNC-Wilmington outfielder Robbie Thorburn (22) slides into home plate to score a run against East Carolina on Tuesday, March 29, 2016 at East Carolina. The East Carolina Pirates defeated the UNC Wilmington Seahawks 9 – 6. (Madeline Gray/North State Journal)

“Any time you can get a win over an in-state rival that really wants to beat you it’s nice,” Godwin said. “Obviously I don’t want any ill-will toward those guys, but I do want to win when we’re playing them.”

The Pirates’ bullpen got in some trouble in the eighth inning with Davis Kirkpatrick allowing three runs on five hits. After an RBI single from Casey Golden, Joe Ingle was brought in for the final five outs to shut the door on the Seahawks late rally. Ingle allowed just one unearned run on an error to earn the save.

UNCW will look to get right against Northeastern in Boston before another midweek in-state battle with Campbell in Buies Creek. The Pirates host a hot Houston club that won the series against ECU last season. This time around, Godwin is excited to exact some revenge at home.

“Houston is going to be one of the best teams we’ve played all year,” Godwin said. “Their pitching staff is one of the best in the country. … We’re just happy they’re coming to Clark-LeClair and we’re not having to go to Houston.”