Pirates eliminated by UNC Wilmington, 9-7

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GREENVILLE - Fifty-eight minutes of agony.

Or, 58 minutes of therapy.

The fifth inning in Sunday's NCAA Greenville Regional elimination game was the latter for UNC Wilmington. It was every bit the former for East Carolina.

After a lengthy rain delay that pushed over the 3-hour range, ECU needed only one pitch to finish off the bottom of the fourth with a five-run lead.

But UNC Wilmington, having lost three previous meetings to the Pirates - including the regional opener - took out a season's worth of frustrations in that fateful inning, pushing across nine runs on the way to a 9-7 that eliminated East Carolina from its host regional at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

ECU, the American Athletic Conference tournament champion, had its season ended at 44-18. UNCW, the No. 4 seed in the regional and tournament champions from the Colonial Athletic Association, moved to 39-22 and faces No. 2 seed South Carolina in the regional final at 1 p.m. Monday. If necessary, a deciding game would be played at 5 p.m.

The Pirates, serving as the visitors, enjoyed a strong start from sophomore left-hander Jake Agnos before the delay, working 3 2/3 innings and allowing two hits. He had six strikeouts.

But after the delay, Agnos was removed in favor of Zach Barnes. Barnes got the out to end the fourth, and ECU extended its lead to 5-0 in the fifth. However, against a combination of ECU relievers in Barnes, Ryan Ross and Trey Benton, UNCW let loose with eight of its 11th hits in the fifth. Zack Canada doubled twice for the Seawhawks in the inning, including one of the two-run variety to give UNCW an 8-5 lead. Noah Bridges tacked on a run-scoring single to push the margin to 9-5.

ECU halved the margin in the seventh, using a pair of walks, Alec Burleson's RBI single and a Connor Litton RBI groundout. But the Pirates got nothing in the eighth, and UNCW worked around a two-out walk to Jake Washer to nail down the victory in the ninth.

Ross took the loss for East Carolina in relief.