GREENVILLE, N.C. – With the chance to sweep its fifth weekend opponent of the season and first in American Athletic Conference play, No. 12 East Carolina did just that as Justin Wilcoxen’s walkoff single in the bottom of the 12th inning lifted the Purple and Gold to a 3-2 victory over UCF Friday afternoon and evening at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.
The Pirates (24-8, 4-2 AAC) recorded their 12th series sweep of an American Conference opponent since 2019 while the Knights (17-15, 1-5 AAC) dropped their second-straight series of the campaign.
In a contest that featured an hour and twenty-minute rain delay, the teams combined to leave 29 runners on base and struck out 29 times. ECU got through the game using just three pitchers, backed by a quality start out of Josh Grosz who did not factor into the decision.
Landon Ginn (2-0) was excellent after the delay, earning his second win of the season after tossing 2.2 innings and recording five strikeouts. Nick Viera (0-1) was the losing pitcher as he surrendered the winning run in the 12th. He walked three and struck out a trio of batters in 2.2 frames.
Lane Hoover and Josh Moylan rapped out a pair of hits apiece while Ben McCabe led the visitors with a three base knocks, a run scored and one driven in.
UCF threatened early in the contest, getting runners to the corners in the top of the first with one out via a fielding error and McCabe single. However, Grosz was able to work out of the jam by striking out Andrew Sundean and inducing an inning-ending fly ball to right.
East Carolina attempted to rally with two outs in the home half of the second on the back on consecutive singles by Alec Makarewicz and Joey Berini, but Dom Stagliano handled a sharp grounder back to the mound and tossed over to first to complete the frame.
The visitors took their first lead off the series in the top of the third when John Rhys Plumlee and Andrew Brait singled to lead off the inning. Tom Josten then grounded out to plate Plumlee, but Grosz kept the damage at one by recording a foul out and groundout. ECU attempted to answer right away, loading up the bases with two outs, but Stagliano was able to notch a strikeout to leave the runners stranded.
The Pirates put together a nice chance to break onto the scoreboard in the fifth. Carter Cunningham laid down a bunt single and Moylan singled through the infield before both runners moved into scoring position via a Jacob Starling sac bunt. Pinch hitter Cam Clonch drew a walk to fill the bases with two outs, but Ben Vespi induced a fly ball to left center that ended the inning.
East Carolina finally broke through in the seventh as Moylan reached on a fielding error and Starling singled up the middle with no outs. Luke Nowak then laid down a sac bunt that the pitcher threw past first base, allowing Moylan to score and draw the Pirates within 2-1. Makarewicz then grounded out to second, but Starling crossed home to tie the contest. ECU put forth the best chance to take the lead before extra innings, loading the bases in eighth with two outs, but a looking strikeout terminated the threat.
With Ginn producing zeros on the mound in the extra frames, he afforded the Pirates the chance for the walkoff win in the home half of the 12th. Hoover drew a walk on a full count to lead things off and advanced to second on a Cunningham sac bunt. Moylan was intentionally walked before Starling was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Following a strikeout, Wilcoxen stepped up and fouled off the first two pitches he saw but connected on the next one and belted it over Josten’s glove in left field to score Hoover for the win.
- East Carolina improved to 20-2 at home this season.
- The Pirates played their longest game (4:18) since a 12-10 win at Cincinnati that took four hours and 40 minutes on April 3, 2022.
- ECU recorded a series sweep of UCF for the second-straight season and has won 17 of the last 21 meetings.
- East Carolina fanned double-digit opposing hitters for the 16th time in 2023 as well as recording double figures in the hit column for the 19th time.
- The Pirates left a season-high 22 runners on base.
- Wilcoxen extended his current hitting streak to 15 with the walkoff single in the 12th.
Up Next: East Carolina begins its home-and-home series with Old Dominion Tuesday, April 11, at Clark-LeClair Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.