CLEARWATER, FL — Central Florida took advantage of an East Carolina fielding mix-up in the top of the ninth to score what proved to be the winning run in a 2-1 Knights victory that knocked the No. 11 Pirates out of the American Athletic Conference Tournament on Saturday.
ECU had downed UCF, 5-2, earlier Saturday to force a deciding game for a berth in the tournament championship on Sunday.
The Knights (31-29) took a 1-0 lead in the second meeting on Saturday as Alex Freeland homered to left on a full-count pitch from Jake Kuchmaner (2-4) with two out in the second inning .
With Jake Agnos at short and Thomas Francisco in left in the ninth, a shallow fly ball from Pablo Ruiz fell between Agnos and Francisco, who was charged with an error. Nick Romano’s sacrifice bunt moved Ruiz to third and Freeland’s RBI single to center gave UCF a 2-0 lead.
The Pirates managed one run in the bottom of the ninth after a one-out infield hit by Lane Hoover, who went to second on a throwing error. Alec Makarawicz had an RBI single before a double play ended the game.
ECU (41-15) went ahead to stay in the first inning of the first game as Agnos had a sacrifice fly after consecutive singles by Francisco, Josh Moylan and Bryson Worrell. Moylan walked in the third and moved around to score with a single from Agnos, a wild pitch and an error on the catcher.
Francisco’s leadoff homer to right-center in the fifth gave the Pirates a 3-0 lead.
The Pirates added a pair of unearned runs in the seventh.
Carson Whisenhunt (6-1) went five innings for the win with Cam Colmore contributing three innings and Matt Bridges pitching the ninth.
ECU awaits the announcement of the NCAA Tournament pairings on Monday at noon on ESPN2.