CLEARWATER, FL — South Florida overcame a 9-5 deficit against No. 15 East Carolina with six runs in the top of the ninth inning and then plated the winning run in the 11th for a 12-11 victory over the top-seeded Pirates in the American Athletic Conference tournament at BayCare Ballpark on Tuesday.
ECU (41-16) faces Cincinnati (24-32) in an elimination game on Wednesday at 3 p.m. (ESPN+). The Bearcats were topped, 4-3, by Central Florida on Tuesday.
Ben Rozenblum had a 2-run single to start the Bulls’ scoring in the ninth. A succession of run-scoring hits by Jackson Mayo, Travis Sankovich, Eric Snow and Drew Brutcher gave USF an 11-9 lead.
Josh Moylan tied the score for the Pirates with a 2-run homer in the bottom of the ninth.
ECU had runners at second and third in the 10th before a fly out ended the inning.
Sankovich and Snow had singles in the 11th before Brutcher drove in the go-ahead run with a single to left center.
Ethan Brown (2-5) retired the Pirates in order in the bottom of the 11th.
“We didn’t do enough in the middle innings,” said ECU coach Cliff Godwin on Pirate radio. “We didn’t score for four innings.”
ECU had a 6-run seventh inning that included RBIs from Lane Hoover, Jacob Starling, Moylan, Justin Wilcoxen, Cam Clonch and Ryley Johnson.
Starling and Carter Cunningham each had solo homers in the first as the Pirates tied the score at 2. Starling’s sacrifice fly in the second provided a 3-2 lead.
ECU used eight pitchers with no one throwing more than 34 pitches. Eric Ritchie (1-2) went the last two and two-thirds innings with five strikeouts.
The Bulls (20-37) had a 19-14 lead in hits. Moylan went 3-for-6 with three RBIs. Starling was 2-for-4 and also drove in three runs.
ECU was coming off a 3-game sweep of USF in a series that concluded Saturday. The Bulls are playing 29 miles from their campus and know their only path to the NCAA Tournament is to win the double-elimination AAC event.
The Pirates are expected to receive an NCAA berth regardless of their performance in Clearwater.