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CLEARWATER, Fla. — Lael Lockhart’s single into right field provided the go-ahead run Thursday afternoon and ultimately forced the East Carolina baseball team into an elimination game in the American Athletic Conference tournament with a 5-3 loss at Spectrum Field.
Joe Davis added a sacrifice fly in the seventh for the Cougars (36-22), who defeated the Pirates (41-16) for the fourth time this season.
The teams will play at 10 a.m. Friday on Robin Roberts Field after the threat of inclement weather forced another change to the American’s tournament schedule. At Spectrum Field, USF and UConn will also play an elimination game at 10 after the Bulls clobbered the Huskies 13-0 in seven innnings.
Senior right-hander West Covington started for ECU and allowed seven hits over 3 1/3 innings. Only one of his three runs were earned after a costly error in the second inning extended matters and allowed Houston to strike on a two-run single by Tyler Bielamowicz.
ECU chipped away at the deficit in the third on sophomore Bryant Packard’s run-scoring single and tied it in the fifth on senior Andrew Henrickson’s sacrifice fly to left. Henrickson tripled in the fourth and scored on Brady Lloyd’s double.
However, in the seventh, the Cougars reached sophomore Jake Agnos in relief.
Two walks, a bunt and a wild pitch set the table for Lockhart’s single that chased Agnos, the losing pitcher. Davis greeted Evan Voliva with a sacrifice fly to cap the scoring. Each team had eight hits.
On the mound, Lockhart recorded the final four outs for his third save. Joey Pulido pitched an inning to win in relief for Houston.
ECU head coach Cliff Godwin was ejected after arguing balls and strikes in the fifth.