Greenville, N.C. – Daylan Nanny belted a three-run home run to pull Western Carolina back to within a run, 7-6, in the top of the sixth inning on Sunday afternoon, but the ninth-ranked East Carolina Pirates plated five unanswered runs over their final two plate appearances to close the 2019 Keith LeClair Classic with a 12-6 win over the Catamounts at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Nanny finished with a pair of hits including his third home run of the season and a team-best three RBI as five Catamounts collected multi-hit games in the tournament finale. Sophomore Justice Bigbie drove in a pair of runs on three singles with classmate Will Prater legging out a double as a part of a 2-for-4 performance as both teams finished with 13 hits.
After falling behind in the bottom of the second inning, WCU managed to even the game in the top of the third. Bertsch was plunked by the first pitch of the inning before a single up the middle by Nanny put two men aboard. Koehler sacrificed both into scoring position with Bertsch scoring on an infield RBI ground out by Bigbie.
However, in the home half of the third, ECU lit the scoreboard for five runs on the strength of two home runs – a three-run shot to right and a two-run homer to left – to make it 6-1 in favor of the home squad.
The two teams traded runs in the top of the fifth inning as Bertsch scored on an infield Bigbie ground out before the Pirates cashed in a lead-off double with a two-out single up the middle to lead, 7-2, through five complete.
In the top of the sixth, Justin Sparks led-off with a single before eventually scoring when Bullock deposited a single into shallow center. With two aboard and following consecutive strikeouts, Nanny blasted a 3-1 pitch to right field to trim the deficit to 7-6. It would prove to be as close as the Catamounts would get, though, as ECU pushed across three runs in the bottom of the seventh with just one ball – a lead-off single through the right side – leaving the infield and tacked on two insurance markers in the eighth, cashing-in on a lead-off triple.
Chase Walter (0-2) took the loss for WCU despite a gutsy six inning appearance, striking out six against five walks while surrendering seven runs on nine hits. Reliever Blake Therrian was tagged with two unearned runs on one hit in a third of an inning of work while Jacob Corn allowed three runs – two earned – on three hits with a pair of strikeouts but three wild pitches out of the bullpen.
ECU’s Bryant Packard paced three Pirates with multi-hit games with a 4-for-5, four-run performance offensively while Spencer Brickhouse tripled as a part of a 3-for-3 showing, reaching five times as he added two walks. Thomas Francisco hit a three-run homer and Jake Washer a two-run shot in the five-run third that staked ECU to its early lead that it would never relinquish.
Starter Tyler Smith (1-0) earned the victory, scattering nine hits and five runs over five innings of work with a pair of strikeouts. Three Pirate relievers only allowed one run with four combined strikeouts, limiting WCU to four hits over the final four frames.
Three teams – ECU, Utah, and Wright State – split the Keith LeClair Classic title with matching, 2-1, overall records while WCU went winless at the event honoring the late head coach of both the Catamount and Pirate programs.
Western Carolina (5-5) remains on the road for its next four games beginning Wednesday afternoon as it visits mountain-rival UNC Asheville at their on-campus facility, Greenwood Field.