East Carolina keeps super regional hopes alive holding off VCU 10-7

GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Carter Cunningham homered and drove in two runs, Jacob Jenkins-Cowart also drove in a pair of runs and East Carolina held off VCU for a 10-7 win on Sunday in the Greenville Regional of the NCAA Tournament.

‘The Pirates (45-16) built a 4-0 lead after three innings, 6-2 after four and 8-4 after five. After ECU pushed it to 10-4 after seven, VCU made its move.

Jake Thilges and Cooper Benzin both singled to start the bottom of the eighth. After Aden Hill’s line out to third, Nic Ericsson and Casey Kleinman followed with consecutive singles that scored Thilges and Benzin. After Chris McHugh got hit by a pitch, East Carolina pitcher Danny Beal bore down and proceeded to strike out Brandon Eike and Eli Weisner to end the threat.

The bottom of the ninth was just as adventurous as the Rams put two of their first three batters on with a hit-by-pitch and fielder's choice. A wild pitch put Thilges and Benzin at second and third, respectively. Hill then grounded out to second, allowing Thilges to score. With VCU now trailing 10-7, Ericsson fouled out in third-base territory to end it.

Ryan McCrystal went 3 for 5 and drove in a run for East Carolina (45-16). Beal pitched five innings in relief to move his record to 8-2.

Kleinman drove in three runs for VCU and Thilges went 3 for 4 and scored four runs.

East Carolina advanced to face Evansville later Sunday. A Pirates win would force a winner-take-all contest on Monday.


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