Ben Fultz capped off a five-run ninth inning with a three-run walk-off home run lifting East Carolina (21-20) to an 8-5 win over Elon (22-21) Tuesday night in non-conference action at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Trailing 5-3 going to the ninth, ECU pushed across its five runs on three hits to pick up its fourth-straight win of the season, which tied a season-high. Down to their last out, Jack Reinheimer walked to start the rally and took second on Drew Reynolds' single to left field. Pitcher Deshorn Lake came into run for Reynolds at first and came around to score along with Reinheimer on Zach Houchins fourth hit of the night, a double to right center knotting the game at five-all.
ECU continued the stanza when Nick Thompson drew a pinch-hit walk putting runners on first and second with two outs. Elon went to the bullpen for the ninth time in the contest and brought in left-hander Tyler Manez, who delivered a belt-high fastball where Fultz deposited it over the right field wall for his second career walk-off hit and seventh career game-winning RBI.
Nick Durazo (1-4) picked up his first collegiate win retiring the lone batter he faced via strikeout. Starter Brett Mabry gave the Pirates five solid innings where he scattered three hits allowing one run (earned) and fanned a career-best six batters. Joseph Hughes had another impressive outing out of the bullpen working two perfect innings of relief with a pair of punch outs. Reynolds was touched for four runs (all earned) on five hits with a pair of strikeouts in 1.2 innings before turning the game over to Durazo in the ninth.
Nate Young (1-1) was saddled with the loss allowing three runs (all earned) on three hits with three walks and two strikeouts in 2.2 innings of relief. Elon starter Andrew McDonald tossed two scoreless innings while fanning a career-high five hitters. John Antonelli allowed a run in two innings of relief, while Danny Lynch (0.1 IP), Jordan Darnell (0.0 IP), Jacob Baker (0.0 IP) and Manez (0.0 IP) were also touched for runs on the night.
Elon took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the second when Chris King singled homed Joey Tomko with a base knock through the right side. Tomko was hit by a pitch then took second on a wild pitch and moved to third on Casey Jones’ first of three hits in the game.
The Pirates tied the game at one-all in the bottom of the fourth when Chase McDonald reached on a fielder’s choice scoring Reynolds from third. Reynolds started the stanza with a single to left center then took second on a passed ball. Houchins followed with a single to right pushing Reynolds to third before McDonald’s grounder to second, where Houchins was retired.
Houchins solo home run to left field in the sixth, his third of the season, and a fielding error by Ryan Kinsella at first on an attempted double play in the seventh gave ECU a 3-1 lead. Travis Watkins scored all the way from second on Bryan Bass’ grounder to short during the frame.
Kinsella seemed to make up for his costly error in the eighth when he belted a three-run homer, his 17th off the season staking the Phoenix to a 4-3 lead. Blaine Bower was hit by a pitch and his twin brother Quinn drew a walk putting runners on first and second with no outs. After Reynolds sat down Sebastian Gomez for the first out, Kinsella belted his three-run shot to right center clearing the bases.
Elon added what seemed to be an insurance run in the ninth when Gomez singled home Jones from second with two outs for a 5-3 advantage.
Three Pirates tallied all eight hits on the night with Houchins posting his second four-hit game of the season. He was a triple shy of the cycle and looked to have completed the feat in the ninth on his game-tying hit, but stumbled around first and ended up with his second two-base hit. Fultz and Reynolds each added two hits in the game, while both Fultz and Houchins drove in three runs. Six different Elon players recorded hits with Jones equaling his career-best on his 3-for-4 evening.
ECU will return back to the diamond on Friday, Apr. 26 when it plays host to Memphis in a Conference USA showdown starting at 6 p.m.