No. 14 ECU Baseball beats UCF in AAC opener, 13-8

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU) – Spencer Brickhouse led ECU’s 13-hit attack going 3-for-5 with four RBI, while the Pirates’ pitching staff struck out 17 as No. 14 ECU took game one of a three-game American Athletic Conference set from UCF, 13-8, Friday night at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium. With the win, the Pirates improve to 16-6 on the season and1-0 in league play while the Knights drop to 15-7 and 0-1.

Trailing 1-0 going to the bottom of the first, ECU plated three runs to take a 3-1 lead. Bryant Packard singled to get things going and took second on Lane Hoover’s walk. Brickhouse delivered the first of his three base hits with a two-RBI double down the right field line clearing the bases. Alec Burleson’s flyout moved Brickhouse to third and Turner Brown’s sac fly to center allowed Brickhouse to touch home.

Burleson (2-0) picked up the win in relief tossing two scoreless frames where he allowed a pair of hits and struck out three. Starter Jake Agnos surrendered six runs (all earned) on seven hits with four walks and nine strikeouts in 4.1 innings. The outing marked the fourth-straight game the lefty has fanned at least seven batters in a contest. ECU also got bullpen help from Cam Colmore (0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 Ks), Sam Lanier (1.0 IP, 3 Hs, 1 R, 2 Ks) and Ryder Giles (1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 K)

Chris Williams (2-2) suffered the loss after being touched for 10 runs (seven earned) on nine hits with a walk and four strikeouts over three frames. Zack Hunsicker allowed a run (earned) on two hits in two innings of relief. The Knights also used Luis Ferrer (1.0 IP) and Jaylyn Whitehead (2.0 IP, 2 Hs, 2 Rs, 1 BB, 1 K) out of the bullpen.

UCF jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning when Matthew Mika was thrown out trying to steal second in the frame. Ray Alejo doubled to start the frame then stole third with one out before coming home when Mika was in a run-down between first and second, after his one-out walk.

The Pirates kept the pressure on scoring three more runs in the second for a 6-1 advantage. Hoover’s two-out, two-run double down the right field line plated Brady Lloyd (walk) and Dusty Baker (fielder’s choice bunt). Brickhouse followed with an RBI single to right field plating Hoover.

ECU tacked on four runs in the third, all with two outs, pushing its lead to 10-1. With two away, Giles had a two-RBI single that scored Brown and Jake Washer. Packard followed with an RBI double to right field pushing across Giles and Hoover tallied his second hit of the night, an RBI single allowing Packard to stroll home.

UCF scored a pair of runs in the fourth thanks to Dallas Beaver’s two-run blast to right field that made it a 10-3 ball game. Mika reached on a walk and strolled home on Beaver’s fifth homer of the year.

Lloyd’s RBI single in the fourth plated Washer, who had a ground-rule double to left-center just before him extending the lead to 11-4.

However, the Knights stormed back scoring five runs over the next three stanzas pulling within three 11-8. Mika had a three-run homer in the fifth, while Brandon Hernandez scored on Alejo’s infield single. Anthony George’s solo blast to left field capped UCF’s scoring on the evening.

The Pirates extended their lead with a pair of runs in the eight, which was highlighted by Baker’s first career home run – a solo shot to right field. Brickhouse’s second triple of the season pushed across Packard making it a 13-8 final.

ECU improved to 11-0 when reaching double-digit hits with its 13 on the night. Eight of the Pirates 13 runs came with two outs with three coming in the second, four in the third and one each in the fourth and eighth innings. Brickhouse (three) led four players with multiple hits, while Hoover, Packard and Washer each added a pair. Brickhouse also led the club with four RBI and Hoover contributed with a career-best three. In all, eight of nine starters had one hit and seven plated at least one run.

Alejo and Wingo paced the Knights offense each tallying three hits which combined for six of the 14 base knocks. Mika (three) and Beaver (two) were the only players with multiple RBI on the night.

ECU and UCF will continue the three-game series on Saturday, March 23 with a 4 p.m. (ET) scheduled first pitch.