Pirates power into AAC championship
The Daily Reflector
Friday, May 25, 2018
East Carolina shook off a nine-game losing streak to Houston in a major way on Friday morning, pounding the top-seeded Cougars out of the American Athletic Conference tournament in a 12-1, seven-inning blistering.
With the win, the Pirates (42-16) likely solidified one of the NCAA’s 16 host berths for next week’s regionals. The announcement will be made official on Sunday night. The Pirates’ RPI remained at No. 13.
ECU will take on Connecticut, a 3-2 winner over South Florida in the other semifinal, for the tournament title at 10 this morning.
Connor Litton turned in a memorable performance with three doubles, three RBIs and three runs scored. Spencer Brickhouse was 3-for-3 with two RBIs, and Dwanya Williams-Sutton and Bryson Worrell each had two hits and an RBI in the win. Starting pitcher Jake Kuchmaner tossed an abbreviated complete game to give the rest of the Pirates’ arms an extra day’s rest.
The Cougars’ pitchers came unglued in the third inning, and the Pirates pounced and took control of the game with five runs.
Already leading 2-1, Litton smashed a bases-loaded double to left-center field that brought home Brickhouse and Drew Henrickson for a 4-1 edge. Both runners reached on Tyler Bielamowicz walks, and Jake Washer was plunked by a pitch to load the bags.
Next, Alec Burleson was hit by a pitch to reload the bases and end Bielamowicz’s morning. Reliever Hunter Edwards promptly threw a wild pitch to bring Washer home, and Brady Lloyd then walked to fill the bags a third time. Turner Brown was hit by a pitch to make it 6-1, and Worrell’s RBI single capped the big frame for a 7-1 lead.
Litton was back at it in the fourth, cranking his second double in as many innings to score Brickhouse, and Burleson’s grounder brought home ECU’s ninth tally. In the fifth, Brickhouse and Williams-Sutton traded RBI singles to give ECU a 10-run cushion, 11-1.
In the sixth, Litton left little doubt, roping his third double and scoring his team’s 12th and final run on Lloyd’s RBI single.
Kuchmaner (4-0) stayed strong for all seven innings following the game’s opening at-bat, allowing one run on four hits while striking out five and walking one.
ECU survived an early sting and grabbed a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
Kuchmaner gave up a leadoff home run to fellow starter Bielamowicz to start the game, but the Pirates got back at him immediately by way of Williams-Sutton’s one-out double following a leadoff walk to Henrickson. He came home on an infield single by Brickhouse, and Williams-Sutton sped home on a wild pitch to give ECU an early edge.