Pirates take first AAC series at UCF

Published 2:40 pm Monday, March 26, 2018

ORLANDO — Central Florida scored eight runs between the fifth and sixth innings of Friday’s American Athletic Conference opener against East Carolina. However, it was the Pirate offense that would hit a stride as ECU picked up lopsided wins Saturday and Sunday to win its first AAC series.

UCF took a 4-1 lead in the first three innings of Sunday’s rubber match. The Pirates responded with four runs in the top of the fourth, taking a lead they’d never relinquish, on the way to a 11-6 win.

Turner Brown led off the frame with a single back up the middle, and Spencer Brickhouse drew a walk to put two on with no outs. Brown came in thanks to a double from Connor Litton, then Brickhouse was plated on Brady Lloyd’s RBI single. Two more scored thanks to a base hit from Chandler Jenkins and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Seth Caddell.

ECU coach Cliff Godwin looked to his bullpen after starter Tyler Smith surrendered four runs (three earned) in three innings. The Pirate relievers allowed two runs on a combined three hits and three walks over the final six stanzas.

Gavin Williams pitched 2 1/3 innings to lead the relief staff. He allowed no runners and fanned two in that stretch.

“That was a great series win for us going on the road and playing a really good team,” Godwin said of knocking off the 20th-ranked Knights. “We didn’t pitch well, but offensively, we hung in there and got to their bullpen. It was good to see Gavin get back out there.”

ECU fell behind early in Saturday’s game, too, but erupted for nine runs in the top of the eighth to knot the series with a 12-4 win. Jake Washer’s solo shot tied the game at 4-4. From there, eight more Pirate runs came in on three more hits and a trio of UCF errors.

“Washer had a big hit that I thought energized us,” Godwin said. “Then we just took what we were able to put up some runs. Jake (Agnos) was terrific coming out of the bullpen.”

Only one of ECU’s runs in the game was earned.

Agnos, a weekend starter earlier in the season, earned the win. He blanked the Knights in the final three frames as he allowed two hits and a walk while striking out five.

Friday’s loss was the only instance over the weekend in which ECU struck first. Washer, Brickhouse and Litton notched consecutive singles to plate a run, but UCF scored four runs apiece in the fifth and sixth frames en route to a 9-1 series-opening win.

The Pirates will continue their early-season gauntlet this weekend. They’ll welcome another ranked AAC foe to Greenville in Wichita State.