ECU, Charlotte on collision course in NCAA baseball regional

NC State, UNC opened NCAA regional play with wins while Duke saw its 12-game winning streak ended by Liberty and Campbell fell to red hot VCU

East Carolina advanced to the winner's bracket of its NCAA baseball regional in Greenville with an 8-5 win against Norfolk State on Friday (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

GREENVILLE — Thomas Francisco hit a go-ahead three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to help East Carolina beat Norfolk State 8-5 on Friday at the double-elimination Greenville Regional.

The top-seeded Pirates (42-15) advanced to the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination event, where they will take on in-state rival Charlotte on Saturday. The second-seeded 49ers (40-19) earned the date by outlasting No. 3 Maryland 13-10.

ECU had just five hits in its victory but drew seven walks — and three more Pirates were hit by a pitch — and scored four unearned runs off four Norfolk State errors.

Seth Caddell and Connor Norby walked before Francisco, on a full count, hit a two-out homer to make it 6-4 in the bottom of the sixth. Zach Agnos followed with a triple and then scored on a wild pitch.

The Spartans (25-27), who made the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance, had their six-game win streak snapped. Norfolk State beat NC Central 7-6 in 11 innings to win its first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title on May 22 to earn an automatic tournament berth.

Freshman A.J. Wilson (1-0) came on in the top of the sixth with one out and runners on the corners. He struck out Jason Council and then balked — scoring Norfolk State’s Ty Hanchey from third base and moving Mason Velasquez from second to third — before he got Khie Simms swinging to end the inning and earn his first win.

Hanchey went 2 for 3 with a double, an RBI and two runs for Norfolk State. Velasquez added two hits, two stolen bases and scored from third when Council was caught in a rundown after attempting to steal second.

Charlotte 13, Maryland 10

Jack Dragum went 4 for 4 with a homer and David McCabe hit a pair of long balls as the 49ers built a big early lead and held on for the opening-round victory. Will Butcher also homered and drove in three runs for Charlotte.

The 49ers scored five runs in the fourth inning and three more in the sixth on the way to building a 12-5 lead, but the Terrapins (28-17) battled back with a four-run seventh. 

Randy Bednar led off the ninth for Maryland with a homer, but Spencer Geistling — the fifth Charlotte pitcher of the game — retired the next three batters to close out the victory.

ECU swept a three-game series with the 49ers during the regular season.

NC State 8, Alabama 1

RUSTON, La. — Jose Torres went 2 for 3 with three RBIs, Tyler McDonough and Devonte Brown each added two RBIs and NC State beat Alabama 8-1 on Friday in the Ruston Regional.

All eight runs for the Wolfpack (31-17) came by way of the home run. Luca Tresh, Brown, McDonough and Torres combined for five homers.

Reid Johnston (8-2) tossed eight innings, allowing just one run on four hits with seven strikeouts. Chris Villaman added two strikeouts in the ninth.

Tresh and Brown hit back-to-back homers in the second for a 2-0 lead. McDonough hit his team-leading 15th of the year in the third and Brown added his 11th in the eighth.

Alabama (31-25) starter Tyler Ras allowed seven run in 4 1/3 innings. Jackson Tate hit a solo shot in the fifth for the Crimson Tide’s only run.

The Wolfpack will play top-seeded host Louisiana Tech at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Liberty 11, Duke 6

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Brady Gulakowski hit three-run homers in back-to-back innings and Liberty snapped Duke’s 12-game winning streak with an 11-6 victory on Friday to begin the Knoxville Regional.

Liberty (40-14), making its seventh NCAA regional appearance, reached 40 wins for the sixth time in program history.

Gulakowski’s six RBIs are the most by a Liberty player in a regional since Trey Wimmer in 2013. Gulakowski gave Liberty a 5-1 lead in the third and his homer in the fourth capped a six-run inning to make it 11-1.

Trevor Delaite (12-1), the ASUN pitcher of the year, set a program record with his 12th win. He allowed eight hits and four runs, while striking out five in 7 2/3 innings.

Trey McDyre added two RBIs and Gray Betts went 2 for 4 with two doubles for Liberty. Aaron Anderson and Cam Locklear also had two hits apiece.

Peter Matt collected three RBIs, while going 4 for 5 for Duke (32-21), which had its 12-game winning streak snapped. Starter Jack Carey (4-3) allowed eight runs in 3⅓ innings.


LUBBOCK, Texas — Austin Love threw 6⅔ strong innings and Danny Serretti hit a two-run homer in the seventh to lift third-seeded UNC past second-seeded UCLA in the opening round of the Lubbock Regional.

Love struck out nine and allowed just three runs to earn his 10th victory of the year while Gale Gillian pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his fourth save.

After UCLA opened the scoring in the bottom of the first, the Tar Heels (28-25) answered back in the second on an RBI ground out by Will Stewart. The freshman DH then put UNC ahead with a two-run double in the fourth.

The Bruins (35-19) got one of the runs back in the sixth but before Serretti provided the winning margin by hitting an 0-2 pitch over the centerfield fence for his ninth homer of the year.

The victory earns UNC a winner’s bracket matchup against host Texas Tech on Saturday.

VCU 19, Campbell 4

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Hunter Vay hit two home runs, Hogan Brown had six RBIs, and No. 2 regional seed VCU extended the nation’s longest winning streak to a program-record 22 games with a 19-4 win over third-seeded Campbell in the Starkville Regional on Friday night.

The Rams (38-14) advanced to a winners bracket matchup with No. 7 overall seed and regional host Mississippi State on Saturday.

VCU had five home runs and 17 hits, breaking the game open with a seven-run second inning and extending the lead to 17-2 after the sixth.

Campbell Ellis (6-1) picked up the win in 3 innings of relief for VCU.

Thomas Harrington (6-3) got the loss for the Camels (35-17), who face fourth-seeded Samford Saturday in a loser-out game.