ECU Headed to Title Game After a 12-1 Tourney Win Over Houston
Jake Kuchmaner(4-0) went all seven innings in a four hitter, giving up just one run with five strikeouts to beat Houston 12-1 in the semi-finals of the AAC Tournament on Robin Roberts Field at the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater, Florida.
The ten-run tournament rule was invoked after the Pirates held a commanding 12-1 lead in after seven innings. ECU will take on UConn at 10 am on Saturday in the title game. The Huskies defeated USF 3-2.
Spencer Brickhouse went 3-3 with with two RBI and Connor Litton went 3-4 with three runs batted in to lead the ECU offensive attack at the plate.
“This is a pretty close knit group and I think they want to win it for each other. I think yesterday was a hard loss and what I told them is that it doesn’t matter how we got here but we have a chance to win one game and get into the championship game,” ECU head coach Cliff Godwin said afterward.
Godwin broke down what he told his team coming into Friday's game against the Cougars.
“We will have lost one game, but it doesn’t matter how we got there, let’s just make the most of it," said Godwin, "I’m so proud of them in the way they responded because there are so many uncontrollables and to come out here without Packard and a freshman on the mound and play they way they did today is very good.”
With the victory, Kuchmaner remains undefeated and his first complete game win performance proved to be big for the Pirates to save some arms for the title tilt.
“I can’t thank my teammates enough for putting up twelve runs today and giving me some support so I could relax and just pitch,” Kutchmaner said, “I didn’t really think I could go seven today. My think was to give everything I had and hopefully it was good enough."
"We have arms for tomorrow now which is good," said Kutchmaner, "The defense was making plays behind me and we were able to get this done in seven innings which is huge because we didn’t have to use any other arms so that was big.”
Cougar starting pitcher Tyler Bielamowicz’s went yard on ECU starting pitcher Jake Kuchmaner on the opening at-bat of the game to give (18)Houston an early 1-0 lead. It was Bielamowicz’s fourth homer of the season but that proved to be all the Cougars could muster offensively.
(15)ECU(42-16) got on the scoreboard to tie the game in the bottom of the first when Spence Brickhouse’s base hit brought Drew Henrickson in from third base. Dwanya Williams-Sutton then scored from third base to make it 2-1 Pirates on a wild pitch from Bielamowicz.
The Pirates scored five runs in the third frame when Connor Litton’s two-run bases loaded double scored a pair of ECU runs. Jake Washer then scored on a wild pitch from Houston pitcher Hunter Edwards after Bielamowicz(0-2) was lifted after plunking Alec Burleson to load the bases. Then Turner Brown was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score a run before Bryson Worrell’s base hit down the left field line scored another run to put ECU up 7-1.
ECU head coach Cliff Godwin talked about Litton’s two-run hit that helped break open the flood gates for the Pirates.
“That ball that was hit to the right centerfield gap was one of the hardest hit balls of the year and an RBI with the bases loaded. I’m really happy for him too because he shows up every day and works hard,” Cliff Godwin said.
Connor Litton’s third RBI of the game in the bottom of the fourth brought Brickhouse in from second base. Then after Litton stole third base with one out in the inning, he then scored on an Alec Burleson’s ground out to third to balloon the ECU lead to 9-1.
In the fifth inning, a Williams-Sutton blooper to centerfield scored a run before a Spencer Brickhouse base hit to right scored another run to put ECU up by a touchdown and a field goal at 11-1 prompting a pitching change as Dylan Lester entered the lineup to replace Hunter Lester for Houston.
Brady Lloyd’s RBI single to centerfield scored Connor Litton from third base to give ECU a 12-1 cushion and they held Houston(36-23) scoreless in the bottom of the seventh to take the victory in seven innings to advance to the championship round.