CLEARWATER, Fla. – East Carolina’s bats came alive as the Pirates defeated Cincinnati, 13-9, in an elimination game at the 2021 American Athletic Conference Baseball Championship Wednesday at BayCare Ballpark in Clearwater, Fla.

WEDNESDAY’S BOX SCORE

AAC CHAMPIONSHIP CENTRAL

American Athletic Conference Player of the Year Connor Norby hit a pair of home runs and drove in five runs as 11 different batters recorded hits for the Pirates (39-14). After falling behind 11-1, the Bearcats (29-26) battled back to have the tying run on base in the eighth inning.

Matt Bridges (4-0) was credited with the win for East Carolina after striking out five batters in 2.2 scoreless innings. Zach Agnos recorded the final four outs for his first save of the season. Zach Segal (5-4) took the loss, allowing six earned runs in four innings of work.

With the win, East Carolina will play the loser of Memphis and UCF on Friday, May 28 at 3 p.m. ET/2 p.m. CT. The game between the Tigers and Knights takes place Thursday, May 27 at 3 p.m. ET/2 p.m. CT.

For the second game of the tournament, Norby led off the Pirates’ first inning with a home run, his 14th of the season.

The Pirates struck for four runs in the second as Ryder Giles’ single through the left side scored Seth Caddell before Norby hammered a 3-run home run to right field. With three homers in two games, Norby has tied The American’s tournament record, which has been achieved five other times.

The Bearcats got on the board in the top of the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Wyatt Stapp that scored Paul Komistek.

East Carolina batted around and pushed six runs across in the bottom of the fifth, capped by a 2-run single by Thomas Francisco, but Cincinnati responded with five in the top of the sixth. Jace Mercer hit a 2-run double and Joey Bellini hit his fourth home run of the season, a 3-run shot to left.

Cincinnati added two runs in the eighth on a 2-run double by Ryan Nicholson, while East Carolina added two insurance runs in the bottom of the frame, when Bryson Worrell launched his eighth home run of the season into the pond beyond the right-field fence and Lane Hoover recorded an RBI double.

The Bearcats closed out the scoring in the top of the ninth as Jake Murphy hit a pinch-hit home run to right-center.