Spencer Brickhouse’s solo home run in the eighth inning proved to be the game-winning hit as No. 14 ECU completed a three-game American Athletic Conference series sweep of UCF, 6-5, Sunday afternoon at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium. With the win the Pirates improve to 18-6 over and 3-0 in league play and the Knights fall to 15-9 and 0-3.
With the score knotted at four-all at the seventh inning stretch, Turner Brown belted his second home run of the season, a solo shot, to right field giving the Pirates their second lead of the contest. In the eighth frame, Brickhouse blasted a solo shot to right field, his second of the weekend and fifth of the season, extending ECU’s lead to 6-4.
UCF pulled within one, 6-5, in the ninth on Tyler Osik’s infield single to short that scored Chandler Robertson, who singled to center with one out. Ray Alejo followed with a double down the left field line putting runners at second and third for Osik. Still with one out, Matthew Mika squared around to bunt on a suicide squeeze where Alejo was darting home. Alec Burleson picked up the bunt attempt just in front of the mound flipped to Seth Caddell at the plate, who applied the tag for the second out. Burleson then got Dallas Beaver to pop out to short to end the game and complete ECU’s first sweep of UCF since 2016 (Orlando, Fla.).
Evan Voliva (3-1) earned the win tossing an inning of relief allowing one walk and striking out one. Burleson notched his second save of the season surrendering one run (earned) on three hits with a pair of strikeouts in 1.1 innings. Starter Jake Kuchmaner gave up three runs (all earned) on two hits with four walks and three punch out in 4.1 frames. The Pirates also got outings from Zach Barnes (0.0 IP, 2 Hs, 1 R), Trey Benton (0.2 IP, 1 H) and Sam Lanier (1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 K).
Garrett Westburg (2-2) suffered the loss giving up one run (earned) on two hits with a strikeout in 2.1 innings. Starter Trevor Holloway was touched for two runs (both earned) on two hits in 2.1 innings. UCF used four other relievers in Kyle Kemp (1.2 IP, 3 Hs, 1 R, 2 BBs, 3 Ks), Jaylyn Whitehead (1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 BB), Luis Ferrer (1.2 IP, 3 Hs, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 Ks) and Jeffrey Hakanson (1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R).
UCF wasted little time in getting on the board scoring a pair of runs in the top of the first when Alejo and Osik hit back-to-back homers for a 2-0 lead.
ECU responded with three in the home half of the stanza taking a 3-2 lead. Bryant Packard doubled to get things going and Brickhouse drew a one-out walk where on the same play Packard moved up to third on a passed ball. After a pitching change, Burleson singled to center plating Packard. Brown followed with a sac fly scoring Brickhouse and knotting the game at two. Thomas Francisco gave the Pirates a one run lead on his triple to right center that easily pushed across Burleson.
The Knights took their second lead of the afternoon in the fifth, 4-3, on an RBI double by Alejo that scored Griffin Bernardo and when Osik reached on an error that plated Alejo.
Once again, the Pirates responded in the home half of the frame knotting the game at four-all. Brown singled up the middle with one out, took second on Francisco’s single to left and came around on Caddell’s RBI base hit left field.
For the third-straight game, ECU pounded out double-digit hits registering 11 on the day and improving to 13-0 on the season when it has tallied 10-plus. Brown led three players with multiple base knocks going 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored. Caddell and Francisco each added two hits and drove in a run. Brickhouse closed the three-game set going 1-for-3 with a pair of walks, one RBI and two runs scored.
Alejo and Osik led the Knights offense combining for six hits and plating all five runs.
ECU will be back in action on Friday, March 29 when it travels to USF for a three-game AAC series. First pitch of the weekend is slated for 7 p.m. (ET).