Cougars survive for extra-inning win, sweep of Pirates
It took 10 innings, 10 hits, five pitchers and some very tense moments for the Cougars to emerge with their 21st win of the season and a 3-0 record in Conference play.
With their 5-4 win against ECU, the Cougars completed a first sweep in their first Conference USA home stand.
While never having the lead until the game-winning run, five Cougar pitchers were able to keep the Pirates from scoring more than four runs throughout the game.
Freshman righthander Jake Lemoine pitched 6.2 innings and surrendered three runs, only two of them earned. Relievers sophomore Ryan Vruggink and juniors Tyler Ford and Chase Wellbrock held the line and allowed only one run between them. Senior lefthander Matt Hernandez earned the win.
The Cougars just survived and advanced, said head coach Todd Whitting.
“Never die,” Whitting said. “For the first seven innings, that was the worst ballgame we’ve played all year, but you look up and we’re still in the game. That’s what we do, we keep fighting. I never doubted the effort of the ball club today.”
After the Pirates took a 3-0 lead, the Cougars battled back in the bottom of the eighth and ninth to tie the game and force extra innings. Junior outfielder Landon Appling had his biggest hit of the season as he drove in freshman outfielder Kyle Survance to tie the game at 3-3.
“It was awesome, you know,” Appling said. “We knew this game was going to be a dog fight today and we kept playing and playing. (The opposing pitcher) gave me a pitch I could handle, and I didn’t try and do too much with it.”
At the start of the 10th inning, ECU took the lead when junior outfielder Dylan Brown hit a leadoff homer on the first pitch he saw, shifting the score to 4-3. But the Cougars took advantage of opportunities in the bottom half of the inning.
Freshman third baseman Kyle Kirk extended his hitting streak to ten games as he singled to start the contest. A misplayed bunt put a runner on first. Freshman outfielder Kyle Survance came off the bench and singled in sophomore third baseman Chris Waylock to tie the game at 4-4 before freshman designated hitter Jacob Campbell drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly.
“I came in looking for a good pitch to hit. I was able to put the ball in play, and luckily, it got through the infield,” Survance said. “Getting this win is huge for us. We’re about to hit the road for a couple of weeks, so for us to come from behind and get the win was big for us.”