Feb. 20, 2010

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CBI Live
Brandt, Pirates topple Cavaliers

By Michael Perry


(Brandt photo courtesy of ECU Media Relations Office)

(Gosselin photo by Ian Rogol/TheSabre.com)


GREENVILLE, N.C.— Following Virginia’s 6-2 win on Friday, East Carolina unleashed its own sophomore lefty in Kevin Brandt (right) as the Pirates controlled Saturday’s tilt, winning by a score of 6-1 at Clark-LeClair Stadium.


Brandt worked 6.2 innings, holding the third-ranked Cavaliers to one run on five hits with four strikeouts. On Friday, Danny Hultzen pitched Virginia past No. 17 ECU.


Though only in his second season, Brandt has made a name for himself slaying giants, posting a 3-0 record against ranked opponents. Last year, he tamed Oklahoma State in relief and as a starter, he fanned South Carolina and shut out then No. 1 North Carolina in Greenville.


“The Brandt kid pitched a wonderful ball game; it’s no surprise he had the statistics he had last year,” Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor said “He was in complete command of the game. He’s a very good college pitcher.”


For much of the early innings, it was a pitchers’ duel, but ECU chipped away by posting three two-run innings to reach their final score.


Virginia went deep into its bullpen, employing three pitchers in relief of starting right-hander Robert Morey. The Pirates plated four runs on Morey in his 4.1 innings and handed him his first collegiate loss.


ECU popped the top on the score column with freshman first baseman John Wooten’s one-out home run in the bottom of the third. In his first collegiate at-bat, Wooten pushed a 2-2 curveball out of Clark-LeClair just barely left of the right-field foul pole, all to the luck of the Pirates as ECU skipper Billy Godwin claims to have inserted Wooten into the lineup on a “hunch.”


“I had a hunch that John was going to do some good things,” Godwin said.  “He proved me right today.”


Wooten’s homer spawned ECU’s first two-run stint as Corey Thompson scurried home on a passed ball set up by a Trent Whitehead single.


“Everybody in our dugout works extremely hard, I just happened to be that guy today,” Wooten said. “It’s been a real humbling experience.”


In the bottom of the fifth, Dustin Harrington scored on a wild pitch and after two walks, Austin Homan delivered a sacrifice fly to center.


The Pirates kept the bats moving into the bottom of the eighth inning as Cam Freeman and Wooten teamed up for back-to-back RBI singles up the middle.


Virginia had numerous runners, but left nine men on base.


In the top of the fifth inning, Brandt staved off a possible rally as he snatched a liner up the middle and flipped it back to second for a double play. Wooten prevented a second fifth-inning run by snagging a shot down the first-base line by Tyler Cannon.


Phil Gosselin (left) later ended Brandt’s shutout hopes in the top of the seventh inning with a RBI groundout.


Following Brandt, lanky right-hander Mike Wright entered the game for 1.1 innings. ECU closer Seth Simmons made his first appearance in the top of the ninth and struck out the last two to put the game in the books.


O’Connor said that this is the kind of baseball you would expect with two elite programs.


“I think it’s the best thing for both of our programs,” O’Connor said. “Even though it’s right out of the gate, it gives you a chance, early on, to see what kind of club you have.”


The final game is set for Sunday at 1 p.m. at Clark-LeClair Stadium as two right-handers will face off. The Pirates will start junior Brad Mincey (13-8 last season), and the Cavaliers will test junior college transfer Cody Winiarski.