GREENVILLE — Third-seeded Campbell ended its season in the NCAA Greenville baseball regional, dropping a 12-3 decision to No. 7-ranked and top-seeded East Carolina in the winner-take-all championship game Monday night at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Making their second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, the Camels went 2-0 over their first two regional games for the first time in program history before dropping back-to-back games to ECU in the double-elimination event on Monday. Campbell finished the year with a 37-21 record, the winningest season under five-year coach Justin Haire.
Five Camels were named to the all-regional team: first baseman Koby Collins, shortstop Luis Gimenez, outfielder Matthew Barefoot, designated hitter Spencer Packard and starting pitcher Michael Horrell.
ECU scored its 12 runs on 12 hits, while its pitching staff held the Camels to seven hits and three runs. Packard recorded three of Campbell’s seven hits, collecting a two-run double, one-run single and a base hit. Including the first game against ECU, Packard finished the day 6-for-9 with four doubles and five RBIs.
Grant Harris and AJ Hrica had doubles. Gimenez and Collins each had a base hit. Gimenez scored two of Campbell’s three runs.
ECU reliever Jake Kuchmaner earned the win, allowing just one hit over three and one-third scoreless innings. Campbell starter Phil Simpson was saddled with the loss, giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits in one and one-third innings.
Campbell went down in order in the top of the first before ECU scored two on three hits in the bottom half to jump out to an early 2-0 lead.
The Camels threatened in the top of the second as Packard led off with a ground-rule double to left-center field before Collin Wolf drew a four-pitch walk. The next three batters could not move them around as a lineout, strikeout and groundout ended the frame.
ECU scored two more in the second and another one in the bottom of the third to send starter Gavin Williams to the top of the fourth with a 5-0 lead.
Gimenez led off the top of the fourth with an infield single and moved to second base on a wild pitch. Packard scored Gimenez with an RBI single into left field, trimming ECU’s lead to 5-1.
Packard continued his hot streak in the top of the fifth, doubling home both Hrica and Gimenez, cutting ECU’s lead to 6-3.
ECU scored six runs over the seventh and eighth innings, setting up a matchup at Louisville in the Super Regionals.
First game Monday
ECU pulled away in a 10-3 win over Campbell on Monday afternoon to force a winner-take-all game in the NCAA regional.
The Camels outhit the Pirates, 12 to 11, but left 11 runners on base, to suffer their first loss since May 14, a 4-3 setback at ECU.
Gimenez went 4-for-5 with four singles for his second four-hit performance of 2019. Both Packard and Barefoot finished with multiple hits, going 3-for-5 and 2-for-4, respectively. Packard collected a pair of doubles and a single, while Barefoot added a pair of base hits.
ECU’s Bryant Packard had a 3-for-4 day at the plate, also driving in a trio of runs. Alec Burleson, who was also the winning pitcher, also collected three RBI with a 2-for-4 outing. Burleson went five innings on the mound, striking out five while allowing seven hits and three walks.
Campbell starter Kevin Westlake was saddled with the loss, scattering four earned runs on four hits through two innings of work.
In the top of the first, Packard led off the game with a single into left-center field. Westlake fielded a sacrifice bunt by Turner Brown and made a throw to second base. Packard was originally called out, but, after review, the call was overturned. Another sacrifice bunt moved Packard and Brown into scoring position for Jake Washer, who brought in Packard on a sacrifice fly to center field.
In the bottom of the first, Barefoot drove the first pitch from Alec Burleson through the right side for a base hit before Gimenez lined a one-out single into center field, bringing Packard to the plate. Packard flared a 0-1 pitch into left-center field for a two-run double, giving Campbell a 2-1 lead.
ECU tied the game at 2 in the top of the second as Brady Lloyd led off with a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, stole third and then scored on a Ryder Giles sacrifice fly. One batter later, Bryson Worrell singled through the left side and then came around to score on a two-out RBI double by Packard, giving ECU a 3-2 lead.
Westlake gave up a single to the first batter in the top of third and then hit the next batter, which forced the Camels to make their first pitching change. Wyatt Tyson came in and retired Lloyd on strikes for the first out, but with the next batter in the box, Tyson committed a balk, moving the runners into scoring position. A wild pitch allowed the runner to score from third base for a 4-2 ECU lead.
Tyson issued a four-pitch walk to Packard to open the top of fourth. After Tyson threw two more balls to Brown, Logan Heintzman was called upon to face Brown with a 2-0 count. Brown laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Packard over to third base. Packard scored on Burleson’s RBI single through the left side.
A hit by pitch and a single loaded the bases, but Heintzman got the next batter, Lloyd, to ground into a 6-4-3 double play, keeping the deficit at 5-2.
In the bottom of the fourth, Harris and Minnick drew one-out walks, bringing Hrica up, who lined a single to center field. Harris was thrown out at the plate by Packard, the ECU left fielder, before Barefoot flew out to left field to end the threat.
ECU’s lead ballooned to 9-2 after a four-run top of the fifth that included a pair of two-run base hits.
Campbell failed to score on another opportunity in the bottom of the fifth as Gimenez singled and Packard doubled with one away. Burleson struck out both Collin Wolf and Koby Collins to strand two more Camels.
Freshman righty Zach Adams appeared in the top of the sixth, and despite an error allowing the leadoff batter to reach, a flyout, caught stealing and a strikeout, held ECU to its first scoreless frame.
ECU made its first pitching change in the bottom of the sixth, bringing in senior right-hander Zach Barnes. Harris led off with a single through the right side and then scored on Minnick’s RBI double into right-center field, cutting ECU’s lead to 9-3.
Adams stayed in to pitch the next two innings and dealt a scoreless seventh before allowing an earned run in the eighth.
(Campbell media services provided the basis for this report)