Clearwater, Fla. – The UCF baseball team (31-29) have advanced to the American Athletic Conference Championship game with the victory over top-seeded East Carolina (41-15) on Saturday at BayCare Ballpark in Clearwater. The Championship berth marks the first time the Knights have advanced to the AAC Championship game.
The Knights will take on the winner of the South Florida vs. Tulane semifinal at noon ET on Sunday, May 30. UCF fell in the first contest with East Carolina, 5-2, but bounced back to clinch the championship berth with a 2-1 victory in the second game of the day.
Game One | No. 5 UCF (30-29) – 2, No. 1 East Carolina (41-14) – 5
The Knights found themselves down early against top-seeded East Carolina, as the Pirates plated a run in the first inning on a pair of singles and a sac fly. ECU would strike again in the third, taking advantage of a wild pitch to extend the lead to 2-0.
UCF answered in the fourth with their first run of the contest, as Tom Josten blasted a double to pick up the Black and Gold's first hit and Pablo Ruiz earned the RBI on a groundout, scoring Josten.
The Pirates extended the lead with a solo home run in the fifth and added a pair of insurance runs on a UCF defensive error. Pablo Ruiz drove in his second RBI of the day with a single to plate Crouch in the ninth.
Winning Pitcher: Carson Wisenhunt (6-1)
Losing Pitcher: Kenny Serwa (3-5)
Top Pitcher: Ben Vespi (5.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 K)
Top Hitters: Pablo Ruiz (1-4, 2 RBI), Tom Josten (1-4, 2B)
Game Two | No. 5 UCF (31-28) – 2, No. 1 East Carolina (40-15) – 1
In a win or go home semifinal game two against top-seeded East Carolina, the UCF baseball team relied on pitching to advance to the AAC Championship game.
Freshman Alex Freeland gave the Knights a 1-0 advantage in the first, launching a moon-shot home run over the left field wall. With the one run cushion, starting pitcher Hunter Patteson went to work on the mound.
Patteson allowed just three hits in his 6.0 IP of work – one in the first, one in the second, and one in the sixth inning. The two clubs battled back and forth, unable to break the 1-0 stalemate until the top of the ninth.
Pablo Ruiz reached and advanced to second on an error in the outfield, who was able to move to third on a sacrifice bunt from Nick Romano. Once again, Alex Freeland came up with the clutch hit, picking up an RBI knock to drive in Ruiz.
In the home half of the ninth, East Carolina was able to get into the runs column after a pair of singles and some help from a defensive error. David Litchfield slammed the door on the Pirates hopes of a comeback, forcing a double play to end the contest with the one-run lead intact.
Winning Pitcher: Hunter Patteson (3-2)
Losing Pitcher: Jake Kuchmaner (2-4)
Top Pitcher: Hunter Patteson (6.0 IP, 5 K, 0 ER), David Litchfield (3.0 IP, SV, 0 ER))
Top Hitters: Alex Freeland (3-4, 2 RBI, HR)
- The last time the Knights played for a conference tournament championship was in 2002, when UCF won the Atlantic Sun Tournament Championship
- The victory marks UCF baseballs first ever win in The American Championships over East Carolina
- The win over No. 11 ranked East Carolina marks the fifth win over ranked opponents this year. UCF is 5-3 against Top-25 teams.
- Hunter Patteson's six innings is a career-high, just three days after opening the tournament with 3.1 IP against Cincinnati
- With the 3.0 IP outing, David Litchfield picked up his eighth save of the 2021 campaign.
The Knights will play in the American Athletic Conference Championship game, taking on South Florida at noon ET on Sunday, May 30 at BayCare Ballpark in Clearwater, Fla.
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP CENTRAL CAN BE FOUND HERE
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