CLEARWATER, Fla. — The East Carolina baseball team won early Saturday against Central Florida to stay alive in the American Athletic Conference baseball tournament. Unfortunately for the Pirates, it couldn’t happen twice.
The Pirates beat UCF 5-2 in the first game but fell 2-1 in the second game to the Knights. Central Florida will play South Florida in Sunday’s final after UCF beat Tulane 7-1 in the last game Saturday night.
Pirates fall to UCF in second game
UCF advanced to the championship game of the 2021 American Athletic Conference Baseball Championship with a 2-1 win over East Carolina Saturday, May 29 at BayCare Ballpark.
Andrew Freeland delivered the two runs for the Knights, hitting a solo home run in the second and an RBI single in the ninth inning that scored Pablo Ruiz.
The Pirates cut the lead to one when Alec Makarewicz drove home Lane Hoover on a single up the middle with one out, but UCF closer David Litchfield then induced a game-ending double play.
Hunter Patteson (3-2) pitched six shutout innings for the win with five strikeouts. He only allowed one Pirate baserunner to reach second base. Litchfield earned his eighth save with three innings and one run allowed to conclude the game. Jake Kuchmaner (2-4) took the loss, allowing a run in two innings.
East Carolina defeated UCF, 5-2, earlier in the day to force the second matchup.
ECU tops UCF early Saturday
East Carolina defeated UCF, 5-2, in the 11th game of the 2021 American Athletic Conference Baseball Championship Saturday, May 29 at BayCare Ballpark in Clearwater, Fla.
The win by the Pirates forces a second game between the two teams later on Saturday, which will take place approximately 47 minutes after Tulane and South Florida’s matchup that begins at 1:03 p.m. ET/12:03 p.m. CT.
Thomas Francisco recorded three hits and scored two runs and the Pirates (41-14) took advantage of a pair of errors by the Knights (30-29).
Carson Whisenhunt (6-1) earned the win for ECU, allowing one run and one hit with six strikeouts in five innings of work. Kenny Serwa (3-5) took the loss allowing two runs (one earned) in three innings.
The Pirates took an early lead on a Zach Agnos sacrifice fly that scored Thomas Francisco. ECU doubled the lead in the third as Josh Moylan scored an error.
UCF got on the board in the fourth as Josh Crouch scored on an RBI groundout by Pablo Ruiz.
Thomas Francisco made it 3-1 when the Pirate first baseman hit his 12th home run of the season to right-center. The Pirates scored a pair of insurance runs in the seventh on a second Knight error.
The Knights scored their second run in the ninth on an RBI single by Ruiz that scored Crouch.