Pruitt’s 13 strikeouts leads UH to its 20th win
When he left the mound to a standing ovation in the top of the ninth inning, senior pitcher Austin Pruitt had a career-high 13 strikeouts under his belt and only one walk.
ECU managed a ninth-inning rally, but relievers Tyler Ford and Chase Wellbrock shut the door to a 4-3 win that got UH its 20th win of the season. Now 2-0 in Conference USA play, the Cougars are still on their best start since 1989.
It was Pruitt’s fifth win of the season against no losses. He allowed only three earned runs and eight hits during his eight innings of work. Through the game, Pruitt used his curveball and two-seam fastball to keep the Pirate batters off-balance.
“My arm felt good and everything,” Pruitt said. “I was just throwing, and they were swinging and missing.”
Ford and Wellbrock, both juniors, pitched hitless ball to hold the lead even though ECU loaded the bases and scored a run via a sacrifice fly. To bring about the end of the game, Wellbrock struck out the last batter to win and get his third save of the season.
With a walk in the fifth inning, freshman second baseman Josh Vidales extended his streak of reaching base to 18 consecutive games. Freshman third baseman Kyle Kirk went two for three with an RBI, allowing him to continue his streak of hitting safely to nine games in a row.
“This was a night where we didn’t have great at bats, but we grinded them out. We left a few guys on base, but I’m really proud of the ball club,” said head coach Todd Whitting. “East Carolina is a great program: They have a lot of pride, they play extremely hard and they are very talented. This was a big win for us, being able to win the series, and I look forward to tomorrow.”
With a 2-0 lead in the series, the Cougars will go for the sweep at 1 p.m. Sunday at Cougar Field.