Camels Down No. 16 ECU 7-3 In 2020 Home Opener

BUIES CREEK, N.C. — Campbell baseball pulled away early and withstood a late rally from #16 ECU to hand the nationally-ranked Pirates their first loss of 2020, with a 7-2 victory on Wednesday night at Jim Perry Stadium.

Sophomore righty Zach Adams earned his first starting nod as a Camel, tossing four scoreless frames with a career-high six strikeouts, including three looking. He issued three walks but only allowed one hit, which the Pirates did not get until the fourth inning.

The win over ECU was Campbell’s second in the last two years, both of which came in Campbell’s home opener and were ECU’s first setbacks of the season.

Four Camels logged two-hit outings in the win, with Marcus Skundrich going 2-for-3, Zach Williams batting 2-for-3, Matthew Christian posting a 2-for-4 performance, and A.J. Hrica finishing 2-for-3.

Skundrich and Hrica both had doubles, while Connor Denning hit the lone home run of the night, launching a solo shot in the second inning; Williams also drove in three runs. Waldy Arias rounded out the Campbell offense, going 1-for-3 with two runs scored.

Fred Sisco, a rookie righty from Gibsonburg, Ohio, went three innings in relief, scattering four strikeouts with no walks. He sat the Pirates down in order in the sixth, collecting a pair of strikeouts in the frame. Senior Jack Yusko appeared in the ninth and finished the game, getting the final two outs by way of a double play.

Arias got the first inning started with a line-drive base hit into left field, and then moved over to second base on a deep flyball off the bat of Collin Wolf. Arias advanced to third on a Spencer Packard groundout to first base and then scored when Williams ripped an RBI single down the left-field line.

Campbell added two more runs to their lead in the second as a pair of Mesa Community College transfers – Denning and Skundrich – scored for the Camels. Denning launched a lead-off dinger over the left-field fence to push the Camels ahead by two before Skundrich kept the inning going with a double into left-center field. He scored on a Hrica two-out double, also down the left-field line.

Adams returned to pitch the top of the third with a 3-0 lead and did allow his first three base runners with a couple of walks and a hit by pitch, but worked out of the inning unscathed, striking out his fifth batter for the final out.

In the fourth, the Pirates got their first hit of the night when Thomas Francisco singled through the left side with one gone. A two-out hit by pitch and a walk loaded the bases, by Adams again posted a zero on the scoreboard, punching out Ryder Giles.

John VanderPloeg relieved Adams in the fifth, and despite allowing a lead-off double, tossed a scoreless frame with a strikeout. Sisco appeared in the sixth, sitting the Pirates down in order with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout.

In the bottom of the fifth, Skundrich led off the inning with a line-drive single into left-center field. He moved over to third base on a failed pick-off attempt at first base. Wolf was intentionally walked with two gone to bring Packard to the plate, but Wolf and Skundrich executed a double steal, pushing across Campbell’s fourth run of the night.

Campbell loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh after a Skundrich hit by pitch, a Hrica walk and an Arias hit by pitch. Skundrich was erased at the plate on a fielder’s choice by Wolf, but one batter later, Packard was also hit by a pitch, scoring Hrica from third.

Down 0-2 in the count, Williams delivered a one-out, two-run single, plating Wolf and Arias, and pushing Campbell’s lead to seven, 7-0.

Sisco returned to pitch the ninth and was relieved by Yusko after loading the bases on a pair of singles and a hit by pitch. ECU scored on bases-loaded fielder’s choice and a bases-loaded hit by pitch, but a 4-6-3 double play ended the game.

Up Next for the Camels

This weekend, Feb. 21-23, the Fighting Camels will host the Campbell Invitational with Purdue, Villanova and Maine traveling to Buies Creek.

Campbell will face all three opponents for the first time in program history, battling Purdue on Friday, Feb. 21 at 4 p.m., before facing Villanova on Saturday at 4 p.m. Campbell concludes the tournament with a 2 p.m. matchup on Sunday against Maine.

Photos by Bennett Scarborough / Scarborough Photography