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Tulane Knocks Off East Carolina, Moves Into First Place in the American

The two top teams in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) met in New Orleans this weekend as East Carolina traveled east to take on Tulane. Tulane had not won a series over East Carolina since 2016.

Tulane head coach Travis Jewett knew the importance of this weekend series at home. “Since I’ve been around here,” Jewett said before Friday’s game, “East Carolina has been the gold standard of this league. And, when you want something that somebody else has and has had for some time, it should excite you. That’s just competition.”

Jewett had to make one of his most important decisions of the weekend before the games even got underway. Tulane Friday night starter Grant Siegel had to miss the series this weekend with forearm soreness, so Jewett had to alter his starting rotation. Left-hander Dylan Carmouche got the Friday start, pitching a day earlier than scheduled, but Jewett noted that Carmouche had his usual rest after Easter weekend created a longer week for the team.

Tulane forced East Carolina starter Ryder Giles out of the game in the third inning on Friday. A four-run third inning was followed by a six run fourth inning and Tulane took a 10-0 lead and the game was all but over before it had even reached the halfway point.

Jackson Linn hit a home run and drove in three runs and Trevor Minder homered and drove in five runs to lead the Green Wave’s offensive attack.

The Pirates did all their scoring in the final three innings, including home runs by Zach Agnos and Bryson Worrell. Carmouche allowed four runs, but more importantly for his team, he pitched seven complete innings and gave the coaching staff plenty of pitching options for the rest of the weekend.

In a reversal of scenarios, East Carolina used nine pitchers in the 11-5 defeat. The win for Tulane meant the two teams were tied in the conference standings going into Saturday.

East Carolina outfielder Jacob Jenkins-Cowart homered in the first inning of Saturday’s game to give the Pirates an early 1-0 lead. Luis Aviles and Jackson Linn hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the inning to give Tulane a 2-1 lead. The Pirates went to the bullpen in the second inning and Carter Spivey took the mound.

The rest of the game was all East Carolina.

Cam Clonch hit a home run for the Pirates in the third inning, and Jenkins-Cowart hit his second home run of the game in the fifth inning forcing Tulane to go to the bullpen. The very next pitch was clobbered off the scoreboard in left field by Worrell and the Pirates led 7-2.

Tulane finally got a run off of Spivey in the ninth inning (unearned), but Spivey was outstanding and kept the Pirates from having to use more than two pitchers after the taxing day the bullpen had on Friday. The 8-3 win put East Carolina in sole possession of first place once again with a lot at stake in Sunday’s finale.

Zach Agnos led off Sunday’s game with a home run to get the Pirates on the board first. Tulane responded when Luis Aviles hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning and Tulane led 2-1.

Brady Hebert and Ethan Groff hit solo home runs for Tulane to pace the offense.

With Tulane leading 8-4 in the seventh, Hebert hit a towering two-run home run to right field, his second home run of the game.

A brief rain delay in the eighth inning stopped play for a few minutes, but when the game resumed, Zach Devito closed out the 10-5 Tulane victory with his second inning of work.

East Carolina used six pitchers in the Sunday defeat, while Tulane used only three. The two schools both found themselves with 8-4 conference records as the weekend came to an end.

Tulane can score plenty of runs, but they can also be stopped as Houston showed a week ago and as East Carolina showed on Saturday. Siegel is expected to be back next weekend, and if he returns healthy, that makes a Tulane staff that just took two-of-three from the Pirates this weekend that much better. Tulane closes out the regular season with Cincinnati, Wichita State, and Memphis — nine games that can give them what they need to win the top spot and dethrone East Carolina in the AAC.

Moving forward, East Carolina needs to figure out their pitching. The nature of their offense in the past has covered for what they may have lacked on the mound. But just when it seemed that Tulane was in trouble with the sidelining of Siegel, the Green Wave scored twenty-one runs in their two wins this weekend and won the series using significantly fewer pitchers than the Pirates did.

The Pirates are already without the guy who was to be their ace, Carson Whisenhunt, who is out for the season. The Pirates have moved Ryder Giles from what had been his place at shortstop and made him a pitcher. The answers have not come easily, but the questions that remain about the rest of the 2022 season for East Carolina loom large.


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