The No. 2 Virginia baseball team dropped its first game of the season Saturday afternoon, falling 6-1 at No. 11 East Carolina in front of the third-largest crowd in Clark-LeClair Stadium history (5,136). The three-game series is now even at a game apiece, with the rubber game set for 1 p.m. Sunday.
Kevin Brandt (1-0) had a great start for East Carolina, pitching 6.2 innings and limiting UVa to one run and five hits. He walked three and struck out four.
Robert Morey (Jr., Virginia Beach, Va.) started for Virginia and went 4.1 innings, allowing four runs (three earned), seven hits and five walks while striking out one. He was credited with the loss - his first in six career decisions.
At the plate, Virginia recorded only five singles against Brandt, Mike Wright and Seth Simmons. Despite this, the Cavaliers still had their opportunities but left nine runners on base. John Wooten homered and drove in a pair of runs to lead the Pirates' 11-hit attack.
East Carolina (1-1) got on the board first in the third inning, as Wooten hit a one-out solo home run to right field. Corey Thompson then drew a walk and moved to second on a Trent Whitehead single. After a passed ball moved both runners into scoring position, Dustin Harrington grounded out to third base to plate Thompson and give ECU a 2-0 advantage.
UVa (1-1) put two runners on base in the fourth and fifth innings but failed to score. In the fourth, the Cavaliers had two on with two out, but Kenny Swab's (Jr., Kernersville, N.C.) long fly ball was caught a step in front of the center-field wall by Whitehead.
In the fifth, UVa put the first two runners on, but Tyler Cannon (Sr., Pigeon Forge, Tenn.) popped up a bunt attempt and Dan Grovatt (Jr., Tabernacle, N.J.) lined back to Brandt, who then flipped back to second base to complete the double play and end the threat.
ECU tacked on a pair of runs in its half of the fifth. Thompson led off with a walk and advanced to third one out later on a single to right by Harrington. Morey then uncorked a wild pitch to plate Thompson with the Pirates' third run. After an intentional walk to Kyle Roller and a walk to Devin Harris loaded the bases, Morey was lifted in favor of Neal Davis (Sr., Baltimore, Md.), who forced Austin Homan to hit a sacrifice fly to score Harrington. He then got a groundout from Jared Avchen to get out of the bases-loaded situation with just one run scoring.
Virginia finally broke through for a run against Brandt in the seventh inning. John Barr (Jr., Ivyland, Pa.) worked Brandt for nine pitches in drawing a leadoff walk. Kenny Swab (Jr., Kernersville, N.C.) then ripped a single up the middle, and Chris Taylor (Fr., Virginia Beach, Va.) followed with a groundout to move up the runners. Phil Gosselin (Jr., West Chester, Pa.) then grounded out to shortstop to score Barr.
ECU tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the eighth inning against UVa reliever Branden Kline (Fr., Frederick, Md.) on back-to-back RBI singles by Cameron Freeman and Wooten. Kline pitched two scoreless innings before allowing the two scores in the eighth.
Four Cavalier freshmen made their college debuts - Taylor, Kline, Whit Mayberry (Alexandria, Va.) and Reed Gragnani (Richmond, Va.). Taylor went 0-for-2 with a walk, Kline worked 2.1 innings (2 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 2 K), Gragnani drew a walk as a ninth-inning pinch hitter and Mayberry tossed a perfect two-thirds of an inning.