CLEARWATER, FL — A three-run fifth inning put East Carolina ahead to stay and the Pirates claimed the American Athletic Conference tournament championship with a 4-3 victory over Connecticut at Spectrum Field on Saturday.
Tournament MVP Spencer Brickhouse had an RBI single that brought in Turner Brown in the fifth for the first run of the game. Brown walked to start the inning and stole second. Dwanya Williams-Sutton was hit by a pitch with one out before Brickhouse had a run-scoring hit to right field.
Jake Washer followed with an RBI single to left. Andrew Henrickson had an RBI single to center as the Pirates (43-16) went ahead, 3-0.
UConn (35-20) got an RBI single from Chris Winkel and a sacrifice fly from Conor Moriarty to close within 3-2 in the sixth.
Brady Lloyd scored on a sacrifice fly by Turner Brown as ECU extended its lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth.
The Huskies got an RBI double from Christian Fedko in the eighth.
Davis Kirkpatrick stranded the potential tying run in the ninth for his third save as a fly to left ended the game.
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Ryan Ross (3-4) got the win in relief.
Jake Agnos started and struck out nine in four innings. He allowed six hits without a walk. The Huskies loaded the bases with no outs in the third but the sophomore left-hander got the next three batters swinging to keep UConn scoreless.
Trey Benton was summoned to the mound after Ross relieved Agnos and Benton tossed two innings. Kirkpatrick pitched the last two frames. Pirate pitchers totaled 13 strikeouts.
Brickhouse went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run. Henrickson finished 2-for-4 with an RBI. Washer had a hit and an RBI. Lloyd had a hit and scored a run. Packard went 2-for-4 with a double.
ECU was playing in the AAC tournament final for the third time in four years under the guidance of coach Cliff Godwin. The Pirates also won the title in 2015.
“Coach Godwin works us hard in the fall to be ready,” Brickhouse said. “We’re a brotherhood. It’s great to share this with my brothers.”
The Pirates won their 25th conference championship. That includes 12 league tournament championships.
“This program was good long before I got here,” Godwin said. “It’s a program with great tradition.”
The Pirates will view the announcement of the NCAA Tournament bracket on Monday at noon at Mellow Mushroom in Greenville. ECU has earned the AAC’s automatic berth.
“We look forward to seeing Pirate Nation,” Godwin said.