ECU clinches top seed for AAC Baseball Championship

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AAC) – ECU, which became the first team in American Athletic Conference history to win 20 league games, clinched its first American regular season title and earned the No. 1 seed for the 2019 American Athletic Conference Baseball Championship presented by Air Force Reserve.

The championship takes place May 21-26 at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida.

The tournament will be played in a double-elimination format through the semifinal round. The championship final is a winner-take-all matchup Sunday, May 27, which will determine The American’s automatic entrant to the NCAA Championship. With six top-100 RPI programs, the American boasts the fifth-best RPI ranking among the 31 NCAA Division I conferences.

Live coverage of the first five days of the championship - as many as 14 games - will be provided by the American Digital Network Plus on Facebook. The May 27 final will be televised at Noon ET on ESPNews.

Three teams have won the conference’s baseball tournament title. Houston (2014 and 2017) and ECU (2015 and 2018) have captured two, while UConn won the title in 2016.

ECU won all eight of its regular season conference series and is ranked as high as No. 6 nationally. The Pirates, who won the 2018 tournament title as a No. 4 seed, are 10-5 all-time in American tournament play and have advanced to three of the past four title games. The Pirates will take on No. 8 seed Wichita State in the opening round Tuesday. ECU owns a dynamic pitching staff, leading the conference with a 3.55 ERA. Lefthander Jake Agnos set the league’s single-season strikeout record with 124 Ks this year and leads The American with a league-low 2.06 ERA.

Picked to finish eighth in the conference’s preseason coaches’ poll, Cincinnati ended the regular season in second place to clinch the No. 2 seed heading into the tournament. The Bearcats look for their first American Championship win after receiving their highest tournament seed. Cincinnati will take on No. 7 seed Memphis in the first round.

Tulane, which is the No. 3 seed, has been the top offensive team in the league all season, leading the conference in 10 offensive categories, including batting average (.305), runs (435), hits (590), RBIs (402), slugging percentage (.526), on-base percentage (.405), doubles (128), triples (20), home runs (87) and walks (271). Junior third baseman Kody Hoese has established himself as one of the conference’s all-time top hitters. He ranks among the top 20 in the nation in eight offensive categories and leads the country with an American-record 23 home runs and 174 total bases. Tulane will take on No. 6 seed UCF in the final game of the opening day.

UConn claimed the fourth seed and is 12-9 all-time in American tournament games. The Huskies are led by Michael Woodworth, who is hitting .431 (25-for-58) with runners in scoring position this season. Closer Jacob Wallace has 14 saves to lead The American. UConn is 8-2 in neutral-site games and owns 13 wins on the road in 2019. UConn will face No. 5 seed Houston in Tuesday’s championship opener. UConn and Houston are 2-2 all-time in American tournament play. The Huskies defeated the Cougars 7-2 in the 2016 American title game.

Houston took the No. 5 seed and owns the best conference tournament record with a 14-5 mark. The Cougars have advanced to all but one American Championship title game and have never been eliminated before the semifinal round. The Cougars enter the championship winning six of their last 10 games.

UCF is the No. 6 seed. The Knights went 14-1 in midweek games, including wins over No. 3 Florida, No. 14 Florida State, No. 17 Miami (Fla.) and Florida Atlantic (RV). UCF is 5-9 all-time in The American Championship. The Knights finished the regular season with an 11-inning walk-off victory over Houston.

Memphis comes in as the No. 7 seed after the Tigers ended the regular season on a high note, winning 10-9 at ECU in the series finale on Saturday. Memphis freshman Hunter Goodman is one of the top rookie hitters in The American, leading the conference with 66 RBIs this season.

Wichita State took two of three in their final conference series against USF on the road to earn the conference’s last bid to the tournament. Tied at 3-3 in the top of the ninth, the Shockers pushed four runs across on the way to punching a ticket to Clearwater.

2019 American Athletic Conference Baseball Championship
Spectrum Field · Clearwater, Fla.

Tuesday, May 21 | American Digital Network
Game 1: No. 5 seed Houston vs. No. 4 UConn seed | 9 a.m. ET
Game 2: No. 8 seed Wichita State vs. No. 1 seed ECU | 47 minutes following Game 1
Game 3: No. 7 seed Memphis vs. No. 2 seed Cincinnati | 4 p.m. ET
Game 4: No. 6 seed UCF vs. No. 3 seed Tulane | 47 minutes following Game 3

Wednesday, May 22 | American Digital Network
Game 5: Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2 | 3 p.m. ET
Game 6: Loser of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4 | 47 minutes following Game 5

Thursday, May 23 | American Digital Network
Game 7: Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2 | 3 p.m. ET
Game 8: Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4 | 47 minutes following Game 7

Friday, May 24 | American Digital Network
Game 9: Loser of Game 7 vs. Winner of Game 5 | 3 p.m. ET
Game 10: Loser of Game 8 vs. Winner of Game 6 | 47 minutes following Game 9

Saturday, May 25 | American Digital Network
Game 11: Winner of Game 7 vs. Winner of Game 9 | 10 a.m. ET
Game 12: Winner of Game 8 vs. Winner of Game 10 | 47 minutes following Game 11
Game 13: Loser of Game 11 vs. Winner of Game 11 **if necessary | TBD
Game 14: Loser of Game 12 vs. Winner of Game 12 **if necessary | TBD

Sunday, May 26 | Championship | ESPNews
Game 15: Semifinal Winner vs. Semifinal Winner | Noon ET