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CLEARWATER, Fla. — On the strength of a five-run eighth inning, East Carolina rallied from a 4-1 deficit Wednesday afternoon to earn a spot in the semifinal round of the 2018 American Athletic Conference baseball championship with a 6-5 victory over Tulane at Robin Roberts Field.
ECU improved to 41-15 overall and awaits the winner of a 9 a.m. elimination game Thursday between the Green Wave (25-32) and top-seeded Houston. Due to rain around the Clearwater area, the tournament schedule has been revamped to include simultaneous action at both Spectrum Field and nearby Robin Roberts Field.
The Pirates will face the winner of Tulane-Houston approximately 45 minutes after the conclusion of the contest.
Through seven innings, the Pirates were handcuffed by Tulane starter Kaleb Roper (5-5).
But in the eighth, the ECU bats began to make headway against the Green Wave starter. Sophomores Bryant Packard and Spencer Brickhouse each laced run-scoring singles after freshman Jeremy Whitehead plated a run with a double play to tie it at 4.
Junior Dwanya Williams-Sutton, a Greenfield School product, provided the winning run when he darted home on a Ben White wild pitch.
ECU collected five of its eight hits in the inning and added a needed insurance run on redshirt sophomore Jake Washer’s RBI single.
Tulane scratched one back in the bottom of the eighth against sophomore Jake Agnos in relief, but Agnos sat down the side in order in the ninth for his first save.
Evan Voliva, a redshirt junior, won in relief for the Pirates, working two-thirds of an inning and striking out one.
Freshman Alec Burleson started and yielded two runs over 4 1/3 innings.
Grant Witherspoon had a pair of two-run homers for Tulane, one against Burleson in the third and another off left-hander Ryan Ross in the seventh. Roper worked 7.2 innings and struck out 11 despite being charged with the loss.