ECU Falls to Wichita State in AAC Tourney Elimination Game
Wichita State single-handedly eliminated ECU from the AAC Baseball Tournament 12-5 on Friday for their second win this week over the nationally ranked Pirates.
With the loss, the nationally ranked Pirates fall to 43-15 heading into regional bracket selections with a potential national seeding now in serious jeopardy.
Mason O’Brien came in just 1-8 in the AAC tournament and had two home runs and a double in the Shockers’ victory.
“They’re giving it their all. We get to face UConn again and they’re really good. We played them well last night and the key for us is to play good baseball and we’re playing good baseball right now,” said Wichita State head coach Todd Butler, “It’s day by day and hopefully we can continue playing in this tournament because I like watching out guys play right now.”
Liam Eddy(5-8) went six and a third innings on the mound for the Shockers giving up just three runs on eight hits with seven punch outs in his 121 pitches to pick up the win. Jake Kuchmaner fell to 6-2 with the loss for ECU.
Wichita State got off to a fast start with five runs in the second and six more in the third and in the end it was just too big of a margin for the Pirates to overcome.
“They really came out and swung the bats well. We didn’t make plays behind Kuch defensively that we should have made and they just put together a couple of big innings,” ECU head coach Cliff Godwin said after the game, “We didn’t have an answer for it to be honest. They really swung the bats good.”
ECU never gave up and they continued to try to make a game of it late in the contest in a 14 hit effort.
“A lot of those guys came off the bench. I thought they deserved a chance to change the tide because the guys we started with didn’t do anything really offensively collectively,” said Godwin.
“Nick Barber had a big day, Dusty Baker hit two balls hard and Christian Jayne hit a double, so some guys got some at-bats there who are going to have to get some at-bats if we continue to move on in the postseason. So the positive was that the guys came off the bench were ready to play.”
Three two-out singles in the second inning was capped off by a Jordan Boyer RBI to left to score the first run of the ballgame. Then after Kuchmaner dinged Luke Ritter to load the bags, Mason O’Brien went yard on a grand slam homer to right that quickly exploded the Wichita State lead to 5-0.
Turner Brown collected his third homer of the year in the top of the third to briefly trim the Wichita State lead to four at 5-1.
But in the bottom of the third, Kuchmaner was lifted and Zach Barnes came on in relief after Jacob Katzfey reached on a fielder’s choice and an errant throw by Turner Brown resulted in a run. David VanVoren’s subsequent double down the left field line was the third extra base hit of the game and scored another Wichita State run to make it 7-1.
Luke Ritter added to the barrage in the same inning when his base hit clanked off of Zach Barnes’ leg at the mound resulting in the Shockers’ eighth run of the contest. VanVoren then scored on a wild pitch from Barnes to make it 9-1. That was followed by Mason O’Brien’s second homer of the day, good for two more runs to put Wichita State up by a touchdown and a field goal at 11-1.
Wichita State(28-30) loaded the bases again in the fourth inning where Boyer then slapped a base hit grounder to left to score another run. That brought on another ECU change when right-hander Garrett Saylor came on for Evan Odom with one out and managed to get out of the inning unscathed.
Christian Jayne doubled in the seventh inning to score an ECU run before Nick Barber and Chandler Jenkins added two more runs on a RBI base hits to right to cut the lead to eight at 12-4 and stave off a ten-run mercy rule ending.
ECU grabbed a run on a Seth Caddell base hit in the eighth to trim the lead to a touchdown but that was as close as the Pirates would get.
They will now travel home to Greenville to await their fate with regional selections coming up this weekend before the full NCAA brackets are decided on Monday.