Sunday, December 10, 2023

What a ride: East Carolina halts W&M’s magical run in NCAA regional final

Charley Could hits the ball into play against East Carolina University. (Photo courtesy of Tribe Athletics)
The Tribe’s Charley Gould puts the ball in play during Sunday’s loss to East Carolina. (Photo courtesy of Tribe Athletics)

CHARLOTTESVILLE — William & Mary’s magical two-week ride through the Colonial Athletic Association Championship and the Charlottesville Regional of the NCAA Division I baseball tournament came to an end Sunday with an 8-4 loss to East Carolina in the regional final.

With the setback, the Tribe concludes its season with a 31-31 record.

With their victory, the Pirates improved their record to 37-21-1, and now they advance to a Super Regional against the winner of the Lubbock, Texas, Regional.

William & Mary faced elimination in seven consecutive games, winning six until finally succumbing to East Carolina Sunday. Along the way the Tribe defeated Northeastern, College of Charleston, UNCW, Bryant and Virginia as they won their second-ever Colonial Athletic Association Championship and NCAA Regional Final.

Charley Gould led the Tribe offense in Sunday’s loss with three hits, including a double, and two RBI. Cullen Large also collected two hits and a RBI.

William & Mary took an early 2-0 lead with two runs in the top of the third inning. A bunt single from Zach Pearson followed by a single from Ryan Hall set the table. Ryder Miconi then moved everybody up with a sacrifice bunt. Large brought in the Tribe’s first run with a sacrifice fly to right field. Gould followed by knocking a double down the left-field line, scoring the second run of the inning.

East Carolina struck back immediately, taking the lead for good by scoring four runs in the bottom of the third. Eric Tyler and Bryce Harman started the Pirates’ rally with back-to-back singles. After an out, a double to left by Parker Lamm tied the score. The next batter, Charlie Yorgen, homered to right, making it 4-2 Pirates.

The Tribe cut ECU’s lead in half with a run in the top of the fourth inning. Back-to-back singles by Josh Smith and Kyle Wrighte put runners on the corners. After an out, Pearson laid down a perfect safety squeeze bunt, plating Smith.

W&M tied the game with a solo run in the top of the fifth inning. Back-to-back singles by Miconi and Large put runners on first and second. Gould then singled to left, knotting the score at 4-4.

East Carolina again responded immediately, taking the lead for good by scoring four runs in the bottom of the fifth. Yorgen led off the inning by reaching on an error. After two outs, Travis Watkins homered to left field. Then a single by Garrett was followed by Tyler’s two-run homer to left, driving in what would prove to be the final two runs of the game.

W&M pitcher Charlie Fletcher was charged with just his second loss of the season, but he didn’t allow an earned run. He went 2.1 innings, allowing four unearned runs and notching one strikeout. John Yoest and Jason Waldman pitched the final 3.1 innings scoreless for the Tribe.

East Carolina’s Sam Lanier picked up his second win, allowing only one hit over five innings and picking up a career-high seven strikeouts.

Offensively the Pirates were led by Tyler, who was 4-for-4 with two RBI. Yorgen, Watkins and Harman each collected two hits for ECU.

W&M had three players honored by being named to the Charlottesville Regional all-tournament team: Miconi, Hall, and Nick Brown.

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