ECU baseball wraps up AAC regular-season title with DH win over USF

ECU Pirates

(ESPN+ photo)

TAMPLA – No. 11 East Carolina scored five runs in the third inning, while its pitching staff allowed a pair of runs as the Pirates completed the doubleheader sweep, 5-2, Thursday at USF Baseball Stadium in American Athletic Conference action.

With the win, the Pirates clinched their second-straight regular season AAC title and improved to 38-11 overall (20-6 AAC) and the Bulls dropped to 22-26 (12-14 AAC).

Bryson Worrell’s three-run homer highlighted the five-run frame where the Pirates took a 5-0 lead in the third inning. Ryley Johnson singled to right field to get the stanza going and Connor Norby followed with another hit to right extending his on-base streak to a nation-leading 56 games.

After Johnson was picked off at third base for the first out, Thomas Francisco reached on a fielder’s choice and Norby moved to second on an error on the same play. Two batters later Lane Hoover singled to center scoring Norby and Francisco moved to third on another Bull error.

Seth Caddell kept the inning going with an RBI single to left plating Francisco and Worrell blasted his seventh home run of the season to right field clearing the bases and giving ECU a 5-0 lead.

Riley Hogan’s RBI single to left field got the Bulls on the board in the home half of the third. Nelson Rivera singled to begin the frame and took third don Carmine Lane’s two-out base hit up the middle. Hogan took a first pitch offering from Smith to left for the run.

Cam Colmore (6-1) picked up the win in relief tossing two scoreless innings where he gave up a hit and struck out three. Matt Bridges locked down his third save of the year surrendering two hits in 1.2 innings and fanning three, including Jarrett Eaton to finish the game and clinch the league regular season title.

Starter Tyler Smith gave up two runs (both earned) on seven hits with three punch-outs in 4.2 innings. C.J. Mayhue walked a pair in two-thirds of an inning in his relief outing.

Collin Sullivan (2-3) suffered the loss after being touched for five runs (all unearned) on six hits with three strikeouts over his three innings. Dylan Burns (3.0 IP, 2 Hs, 2 BBs) and Logan Lyle (3.0 IP, 2 Ks) closed out the contest with a combined six shutout innings of relief.

Caddell led the Pirates offensively going 2-for-4 with an RBI, while six others posted a hit in the game. Worrell led the club with three RBI, which came on his seventh home run of the year.

The Bulls scored another run in the fourth cutting the lead to three, 5-2. Robert Pens singled to left and took second on Jake Sullivan’s ground out to third. After a Matt Ruiz ground out to short, Rivera doubled home Pena with a base knock to left field.

Game One Recap
Gavin Williams was dominant in his ninth start of the season allowing one run (earned) on three hits with 11 strikeouts improving to 9-0 on the year as No. 11 East Carolina took game one 10-1. Danny Beal worked two scoreless frames with a strikeout and Nick Logusch closed out the game with a perfect ninth that included a pair of punch-outs.

ECU jumped out to an early 1-0 lead thanks to Francisco’s RBI sac fly in the third. Ryley Johnson singled with one out and moved to second on Norby’s single through the right side. After a successful double steal, Francisco lifted an 0-2 offering from Joseph Sanchez to left field easily plating Johnson.

USF responded with a run in the home half of the third tying the game at one-all. Nick Gonzalez and Nelson Rivera laced consecutive singles and after Jarrett Eaton dropped down a sac bunt pushing the runners up 90 feet, Carmine Lane’s RBI ground out scored Gonzalez.

Sanchez (0-2) took the loss allowing three runs (all earned) on eight hits with a walk and a strikeout in five innings. Caleb Pundsack was touched for seven runs (six earned) on five hits and two walks in just one-third of an inning. Connor Churchill tossed 2.2 scoreless innings of relief giving up a couple of hits while walking two and fanning one before Drew Hemenway worked the ninth inning with one strikeout.

The Pirates regained the lead in the fifth inning scoring a pair of runs, 3-2. Ryder Giles got the frame going with a single through the right side and took second on Johnson’s sac bunt. Norby followed with a walk but was erased on Francisco’s fielder’s choice. Caddell reached on an infield single plating Giles and Lane Hoover’s RBI bunt single scored Francisco.

ECU put the game out of reach in the sixth scoring seven runs on five hits with coupled with two USF errors extending the lead to 10-1. Norby’s two-RBI single pushed across the first two runs and two batters later, Hoover’s two-RBI base knock scored two more. Zach Agnos followed with an RBI single up the middled and Worrell’s ground out to short capped the scoring at seven in the frame.

The Pirates pounded out 16 hits in the game getting multiple base knocks from Agnos (two), Giles (two), Johnson (two)Hoover (two), Norby (three) and Worrell (three). Hoover tied his career-high with three RBI, while Norby plated a pair for his 10th multi-RBI game of the year.

The Pirates and Bulls will continue the four-game league series Friday. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m. (ET) and will be streamed on ESPN+.

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