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CLEARWATER, Fla. — Charlie Yorgen finished the game with two hits, but none was bigger than his last.
The East Carolina Pirates walked off in the bottom of the ninth inning on Yorgen’s hit to the outfield that scored Hunter Allen from second base to take Game 3 of the American Athletic Conference baseball tournament against the UCF Knights, 4-3.
“That was a great college baseball game,” UCF head coach Terry Rooney said. “Both teams competed like crazy, battled their hearts [out] and credit East Carolina – they played a little bit better than us. We’ve been talking about that just to get one pitch better. They played a little bit better than us.”
The opening game in the tournament for both teams turned into a pitchers’ duel after each gave up just a run in the second inning before both teams went scoreless over the next four innings.
The Knights broke the 1-1 tie in the top of the seventh inning on a two-out, two-run double to left field by short stop Dylan Moore that put UCF up 3-1.
East Carolina followed up the Knights’ two-run seventh inning by scoring a run in the next two innings to enter the bottom of the ninth inning tied at three runs each.
The Pirates opened up the ninth inning with a baserunner after Knights starting pitcher Zach Rodgers hit leadoff hitter Eric Tyler. Center fielder Garrett Brooks then advanced pinch runner Parker Lamm to second base on a sacrifice bunt.
East Carolina nearly won the game on the next at bat when Allen doubled to right field but Lamm was thrown out at the plate to set up Yorgen’s game-winning hit in the next at bat.
Rodgers received his first loss of the season after allowing four earned runs over 8.2 innings. He walked one batter while striking out four.
“Zach gave it everything he had out there,” Rooney said. “He was staying in that game. He’s our number one pitcher. He’s one of the greatest pitchers that I’ve ever pitched; the best that UCF has seen. It was a tough loss but the kids really competed; they really competed.”
Pirates starting pitcher Reid Love did not factor into the game’s decision after allowing three earned runs over eight innings while striking out nine batters. Reliever Joe Ingle picked up the win after pitching a perfect ninth inning.
East Carolina will now advance in the winners’ bracket of the tournament and will face Tulane on Thursday night at 7 p.m. The Knights will face UConn on Thursday at 11 a.m. in the double-elimination style format.
UConn will send AAC Pitcher of the Year Carson Cross to the mound against UCF while the Knights have yet to announce a starter for Thursday’s game.