CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA — East Carolina moved into the regional final of the NCAA baseball tournament with an 8-5 win over Oklahoma on Sunday before falling to host Virginia, 8-3, to end the 2023 season for the Pirates.
ECU, which finished 47-19, would have had to top the Cavaliers (48-12) twice in order to advance to the Super Regional.
The Pirates led UVa, 2-1, going to the seventh inning with Virginia designated as the visiting team. The Cavaliers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a ground rule double by Kyle Teel that scored Jake Gelof.
ECU evened the score in the bottom of the first on a sacrifice fly by Josh Moylan. The Pirates took the lead in the fourth on an RBI single by Justin Wilcoxen that followed singles by Moylan and Jacob Jenkins-Cowart.
Virginia starter Early Connelly (11-2) prevented further damage in the fourth with a pair of strikeouts. Connelly, who was named Most Outstanding Player of the regional, went six and one-third innings. He allowed seven hits, two runs (both earned) while walking one and striking out 10.
Ethan O’Donnell put the Cavaliers ahead, 4-2, in the seventh with a 3-run homer off Landon Ginn (6-1).
A 3-run homer in the eighth by Anthony Stephan extended Virginia’s lead to 7-2.
ECU got a leadoff double from Cam Clonch in the eighth. He scored on a single to left by Wilcoxen. A walk to Joey Berini and a single ro shallow left by Lane Hoover loaded the bases for Jacob Starling, the only selection from ECU on the all-regional team. Starling sent a fly to left center that was caught at the fence to close the inning.
Teel’s homer in the ninth finished the scoring.
ECU starter Zach Root went four and two-thirds innings. He yielded five hits and one earned run while walking two and striking out one.
Ginn had both decisions on Sunday as the Pirate bullpen was busy.
ECU had a 3-1 lead over the Sooners (32-28) before erupting for five runs in the fifth.
The big frame started with a single from Hoover. Starling followed with a single and Carter Cunningham had an RBI double. Moylan had an RBI single, Clonch hit a sacrifice fly and Jenkins-Cowart doubled to bring in Moylan. Wilcoxen’s run-scoring double pushed the lead to 8-1.
Clonch had two hits and two RBIs in the Pirates’ second win of the regional over Oklahoma.
ECU was making its 33rd appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Pirates will continue to seek their first berth in the College World Series.
“We do it the right way, and we’re going to get there,” said ECU alumnus and coach, Cliff Godwin. “It’s just hard until you knock that door down.”