Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
CLEARWATER, Fla. — The No. 8 seed in the American Athletic Conference baseball tournament owns the kryptonite for regular-season champion East Carolina.
For the second time in as many meetings at Spectrum Field, Wichita State stunned the Pirates, this time riding a pair of big innings in the second and third to a comfortable 12-5 victory.
East Carolina ends its conference tournament at 43-15 and awaits its fate in regards to a top-eight national seed for the NCAA regionals Monday afternoon. However, Greenville and Clark-LeClair Stadium are expected to be among the 16 sites chosen for the regional round.
Wichita State improved to 28-30 and must defeat No. 4 seed UConn twice Saturday to reach Sunday’s championship and keep its hopes for an automatic NCAA bid alive.
Mason O’Brien homered twice for the Shockers, including a grand slam off ECU starter Jake Kuchmaner in the second. Turner Brown had a solo home run for the Pirates in the third, but the Shockers responded with six more runs in the third, highlighted by O’Brien’s two-run homer.
ECU was outhit 15-14 and committed two errors. Kuchmaner took the loss after allowing eight hits and eight runs in just two innings. Seven were earned.
Eddy Liam lasted 6 1/3 innings for Wichita State to earn the win, allowing eight hits.
Nick Barber, Connor Norby and Jake Washer had two hits each. O’Brien was 3 for 5 with six RBIs for the Shockers.
The Pirates closed to within 12-5 in the eighth on Seth Caddell’s run-scoring single that plated designated hitter Thomas Francisco, but could get no closer.