GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina’s baseball team claimed its third straight American Athletic Conference regular-season title Sunday afternoon following a 6-2 series sweep of South Florida coupled with a 3-1 UCF win over Houston.
With the title in hand, the No. 25 Pirates (34-18, 17-4 AAC) will be the top seed in The American Championships that are set to begin on May 24 in Clearwater, Fla. (time to be determined).
ECU becomes the first team in league history to win three outright regular-season titles (2019, 2021, 2022) and are tied with the Cougars, who have claimed three titles (2015, 2017/tie, 2018). Since joining the league in 2015, the Pirates are one of three teams to have won six series in a regular season, joining Houston (2015 and 2017) and UCF (2017). In 2019, the Pirates also posted six series victories on their way to a league-best 20-4 record.
It was the Pirates’ fourth weekend sweep in AAC play. The Bulls dropped to 26-25 overall and 6-15 in the AAC.
With the game tied at two-all going to the bottom of the sixth, the Pirates regained the lead at 3-2 before adding three runs in the eighth inning. Ben Newton led off with a double to right-center and scored when Jacob Starling dropped down a sac bunt to the pitcher who underthrew the first baseman allowing him to move to second and Newton to dart home for the would-be game-winning run.
Zach Agnos (2-0) earned the win in relief allowing a run (earned) on one hit with a strikeout in two-thirds of an inning. Ben Terwilliger notched his second save tossing three scoreless frames out of the bullpen where he allowed one hit with one walk and fanned two.
Starter Jake Hunter was sensational on the day tossing a career-best 5.1 innings where he allowed a run (earned) on one hit with a personal-best seven strikeouts. The right-hander was perfect through his 5.1 frames retiring 16 in a row before hitting Joaquin Monque. The next Bulls batter, Jackson May, singled through the left side putting runners on first and third with one away before being lifted for Agnos in the sixth.
Nolan Hudi (3-2) suffered the loss giving up one run (unearned) on two hits with a punchout in 2.2 innings. Starter Tanner Mink allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits with a pair of walks and four strikeouts in 3.1 innings before turning the game over to the bullpen. The Bulls also got outings from Joey Volini (1.2 IP, 2 Hs, 3 Rs, 1 K) and Austin Grause (0.1 IP).
The Pirates broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning pushing across a pair of runs for a 2-0 lead. Ben Newton drew a one-out walk and took third on Jacob Starling’s single through the left side. Two batters later, Josh Moylan doubled down the right-field line scoring Newton before Starling crossed home on a fielding error by Ben Rozenblum during Justin Wilcoxen’s at-bat.
South Florida tied the game at two-all scoring a pair in the top of the sixth frame. With one away, Monque was hit by a pitch and took third on Mayo’s base hit. A fielder’s choice RBI by Marcus Brodil coupled with a Pirate fielding miscue allowed Monque to score and Mayo to land on second. Nick Gonzalez RBI double plated Brodil to tie the contest.
Leading 3-2 going to the home half of the eighth, the Pirates plated three runs capping the scoring at 6-3. With two away, Newton reached on an infield single and took second when Starling was hit by a pitch. Both runners would come around to score on Alec Makarewicz three-run homer to left field, his ninth of the year.
Agnos, who extended his on-base streak to 26 games with his single in the first, and Newton each tallied two hits on the day for the Pirates. Makarewicz, Josh Moylan and Starling registered one apiece, while Newton scored three of ECU’s six runs.
The Pirates will head into their final week of the regular season riding a 10-game winning streak (tied for second-longest active in the nation) when they play host to Campbell on Tuesday, May 17 with a 6:30 p.m. (ET) scheduled start. ECU will close out the final weekend of play, hosting Houston on Thursday, May 19 at 6:30 p.m. (ET). All Pirate games can be streamed on ESPN+.