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Seven-run eighth dooms No. 14/20 Bulldogs in NCAA opener Friday night

Photo by: Keith Lucas
Photo by: Keith Lucas
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Evan Kruczynski tossed seven scoreless innings and third-seeded East Carolina scored seven runs in the eighth inning to earn a 9-1 victory over second-seeded and the No. 14/20 Bryant University baseball team in game two of the NCAA Charlottesville Regional on Friday night at Davenport Field.

The loss drops the Bulldogs (47-11) into the losers' bracket where they will face fourth-seeded William & Mary in an elimination game on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. The Pirates (35-21-1) will face top-seeded Virginia in Saturday's second game for a spot in the regional final. UVA defeated the Tribe, 17-4, in Friday's first game.

Bryant had just six hits in the game and finished 0-for-15 with runners on base and 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. The Black and Gold have now lost their last five NCAA Tournament games after winning their first in 2013.

"I'm dissapointed with the final score but it doesn't matter, a loss is a loss," head coach Steve Owens said. "I'm pretty confident they will be ready to go tomorrow and hopefully they can grind one out."

Friday's regional opener was a pitchers duel at the beginning as sophomore James Karinchak (Walden, N.Y.) and Kruczynski matched zeroes for the first six innings. Karinchak (12-3) lasted 6 1/3 innings and allowed one run on three hits, walked four and struck out eight. Kruczynski (7-1) was just a bit better as he went seven, allowed six hits, walked three and struck out six.

"Both starting pitchers were outstanding and gave their team a chance to win," Owens said. "I thought James was awesome today, gave us alot of energy and was arguably the best player on the field."

Karinchak allowed two hits over the first three innings but didn't allow another until a one-out single in the seventh. He struck out two in the first, stranded two with a strikeout in the second, struck out two more in the third and then faced the minimum over the next three frames. Karinchak got some help in the fifth as junior Cole Fabio (Mahwah, N.J.) fielded a ground ball up the middle and flipped it with his glove to senior Dan Cellucci (Sudbury, Mass.) to start an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

The Pirates, however, were able to breakthrough in the seventh. Travis Watkins walked to open the inning and then raced around to third on a single to right center from Eric Tyler. That chased Karinchak and Bryce Harman greeted reliever Justin Snyder (Georgetown, Mass.) with a sac fly to center to make it 1-0.

Kruczynski then stranded the tying run at third base in the bottom of the seventh and East Carolina put the game away in the eighth. Charlie Yorgen singled to lead off the inning and scored two batters later on a single up the middle from Turner Brown. It started a string three-straight hits that was capped by a run-scoring double from Garrett Brooks. The Black and Gold then elected to intentionally walk the next batter to load the bases but a second walk, a wild pitch and a two-run single capped the inning and made it 7-0.

Fabio was the only Bulldog to finish with multiple hits as he went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles. The Blakc and Gold scored their only run in the ninth on an RBI groundout from senior Robby Rinn (Warwick, R.I.).  

Yorgen had three hits, Watkins had two hits and two runs scored and Harman drove in two to lead East Carolina. The win is the Pirates' first to open a regional since the 2009 season.