CLEARWATER, Fla. – Justin Wilcoxen’s RBI single in the 13th inning scored Josh Moylan and propelled East Carolina to a 7-6 victory in an elimination game at the 2023 American Baseball Championship presented by Visit St. Pete Clearwater.
With the win, East Carolina (43-16) advances to play South Florida in the semifinals on Saturday at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN+. ECU would have to defeat the Bulls twice on Saturday to move on to the Championship final on Sunday.
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It was the longest game in terms of innings in Championship history.
Lane Hoover doubled home Joey Berini in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Pirates a 6-5 lead. After a 1-hour, 58-minute weather delay, the Knights loaded the bases in the top of the ninth and Nick Romano singled home pinch-runner Corey Robinson to tie the game.
UCF’s Kyle Kramer and East Carolina’s Trey Yesavage shut down the offenses early in the extra frames, as Kramer went 3.2 innings without giving up a run, while Yesavage finished with one run allowed in 5.2 innings.
In the bottom of the 13th, Moylan reached on an error and advanced to second on a single by Luke Nowak, setting the stage for Wilcoxen, who had been intentionally walked his previous two plate appearances.
Landon Ginn (5-0) pitched a scoreless 13th to earn the win for the Pirates, while Dom Stagliano (4-5) took the loss for UCF.
The Pirates opened the scoring in the second inning with five runs, highlighted by a grand slam by Carter Cunningham.
UCF cut into the lead with a pair of runs in the third and one in the fourth and tied the game in the top of the seventh on a 2-run home run by McCabe, his 49th of his career (second all-time in The American).
East Carolina starter Josh Grosz allowed three runs in 4.1 innings with five strikeouts, while Knights starter Ben Vespi allowed five runs, all unearned, and struck out five in 5.2 frames of work.
2023 American Athletic Conference Baseball Championship presented by Visit St. Pete Clearwater
BayCare Ballpark | Clearwater, Fla.
All Times Eastern
Game 1: No. 4 UCF 4, No. 5 Cincinnati 3
Game 2: No. 8 South Florida 12, No. 1 East Carolina 11 (11 innings)
Game 3: No. 7 Tulane 10, No. 2 Houston 8
Game 4: No. 6 Memphis 10, No. 3 Wichita State 6
Game 5: No. 1 East Carolina 9, No. 5 Cincinnati 6
Game 6: No. 2 Houston 4, No. 3 Wichita State 3
Game 7: No. 8 South Florida 15, No. 4 UCF 4 (8 innings)
Game 8: No. 7 Tulane 12, No. 6 Memphis 2 (8 innings)
Game 9: No. 1 East Carolina 7, No. 4 UCF (13 innings)
Game 10: No. 2 Houston 6, No. 6 Memphis 5
Game 11: No. 8 South Florida vs. No. 1 East Carolina | 9 a.m. | ESPN+
Game 12: No. 7 Tulane vs. No. 2 Houston | 47 minutes after Game 11 | ESPN+
Game 13: No. 8 South Florida vs. No. 1 East Carolina (If Necessary) | TBD | ESPN+
Game 14: No. 7 Tulane vs. No. 2 Houston (If Necessary) | TBD | ESPN+
Game 15: Semifinal Winners | Noon | ESPNEWS and ESPN+