CLEARWATER, FL — Jake Agnos, Tyler Smith and Matt Bridges combined for a three-hit shutout as Travis Watkins and Spencer Brickhouse blasted home runs in East Carolina’s 4-0 win over Central Florida in the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference tourmament at Spectrum Field on Saturday.
The Pirates (32-27) advance to play Houston at noon today for the league tournament championship and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Watkins homered to left in the top of the first inning for a 1-0 ECU lead.
“Travis putting up one in the first inning — that was big,” Agnos said. “I knew that we were coming out hot and if I just kept us in the game, we were going to win it.”
Agnos, a freshman left-hander, turned in seven scoreless innings. Smith checked the Knights (40-20) for an inning and one-third. Bridges recorded a strikeout to end the game, stranding a Knight at second base.
“I just wanted (Agnos) to go out there and trust his stuff and be aggressive,” said Pirates coach Cliff Godwin. “The only time Jake gets in trouble is when he’s passive. … We wanted him to go out there and kind of go as long and as hard as he could go.”
Agnos (3-3) yielded two hits, walked three and struck out six.
Agnos credited his defensive support.
ECU left fielder Dwanya Williams-Sutton jumped and extended for a catch at the wall on a ball hit by Ryan Crile to lead off UCF’s half of the fifth.
Pirate right fielder Drew Henrickson robbed Eli Putnam of a home run in the sixth, leaping to reach above the fence and make a grab.
Henrickson lost a fly ball by the next batter, Brennan Bozeman, in the sun to give UCF a runner at second. Henrickson ranged back for a catch at the fence on Kyle Marsh and pegged to second baseman Charlie Yorgen, who fired to third baseman Eric Tyler for a tag out on Bozeman, who had taken a big turn. Bozeman sustained a bloody nose on the play and changed jerseys.
Brickhouse homered to left center to start the fourth for a 2-0 lead.
Henrickson walked to start the seventh but was retired as Wesley Phillips got aboard on a fielder’s choice. With two out, the sun appeared to be a factor again in right field as Yorgen reached on an error that allowed Phillips to score. Yorgen went to third. Watkins had an RBI single to put the Pirates ahead, 4-0.
Watkins went 2-for-5 as ECU outhit the Knights, 4-3. Both teams were charged with two errors.”