February 12 Baseball Notebook

Go C-USA! Ryne Lovdahl
Go C-USA!
Ryne Lovdahl
Go C-USA!

Feb. 12, 2007

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Three more Conference USA teams make their season debuts this weekend. The Brian Shoop era gets underway at UAB when the Blazers take on Central Michigan in a three-game series in Birmingham. Southern Miss will host the Coca-Cola Classic at Pete Taylor Park, welcoming Southern Illinois, Northwestern State and former C-USA rival Louisville. Marshall will open the 2007 campaign with a three-game set at Charleston Southern.

 

C-USA NOTEBOOK


EAST CAROLINA

The Pirates took two-of-three from Liberty over the weekend.  Junior OF Harrison Eldridge led the East Carolina attack from the lead-off position, going 7-for-12 (.583) with two doubles and six runs scored.  He also walked three times, reaching base 10 times in his 15 at-bats.  Senior OF Ryan Tousley collected a hit in all three games (five overall) and is batting .417 (5-for-12) on the season.  Going back to last season, he has hit safely in 20 of his last 21 games.  Junior SS Dale Mollenhauer capped off a seven-run sixth inning on Sunday afternoon when hit sent a 1-1 pitch over the right field wall for his first career grand slam.  It was the 12th home run of his career.  Senior LHP Jeff Ostrander picked up his first win of the season in a 7-4 win over Liberty Saturday afternoon. It was his first win since March 13, 2005 after missing nearly two seasons with injuries.  On the day, he worked six full innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on eight hits with four strikeouts and walking none.  His last appearance came on March 20, 2005 against Tulane when he pitched 3 2/3 innings.  Junior RHP Shane Mathews, who moved to the closer's role this year, picked up his first save of the season and second of his career. In all last weekend, he worked 2 1/3 innings, allowed two hits, no runs and struck out two in a pair of appearances.  The Pirate bullpen has been an early surprise for head coach Billy Godwin. In three games they allowed just three runs (two earned) in 10 1/3 innings while striking out 14 with two walks.

 

HOUSTON

The Cougars were 2-2 in the opening week of the season, including the team's first win of the year against a ranked opponent, 4-2 over No. 20 Baylor on Feb. 9.  Houston opened the year with a 15-6 victory over Stephen F. Austin on Feb. 6, the team's 10th straight win at Cougar Field.  The 15 runs were the most by UH in a season opener since a 16-12 win over No. 4 Rice in 1997.  Senior OF Jake Stewart blasted his first career grand slam against Stephen F. Austin, the first grand slam by the Cougars since April 2, 2005.   Junior RHP Aaron Brown picked up the win over No. 20 Baylor with a strong starting performance.  He threw five shutout innings, allowing just one hit and striking out five with four walks.  Freshman LHP Donnie Joseph was impressive in his Cougar debut against Texas A&M on Saturday, allowing one unearned run  on five hits over five innngs pitched.  Freshman Zak Presley started the first three games of the week in center field and hit safely in each game.  Sophomore OF Felix Fanaselle blasted a solo home run - the first of his collegiate career - in his second career plate appearance in a Cougar uniform against Texas A&M on Saturday.  He was one of five different UH players to go deep in the opening week of the season.

 

MARSHALL

Marshall boasts a brand-new coaching staff for the 2007 season.  Jeff Waggoner took over the reins of the Thundering Herd program from Dave Piepenbrink in August after serving as an assistant coach for the past two seasons at North Carolina State.  He is assisted by Tim Adkins, Tim Donnelly and George Brumfield.  Marshall competed in its first conference tournament since the 1995 Southern Conference Tourney when it played in the C-USA Championship as the No. 7 seed.  Senior DH Brendan Murphy was named second team All-Conference USA in 2006 and is a 2007 NCBWA Preseason Second Team All-American after batting .315 with 19 doubles, 15 homers and 70 RBI.  He finished just three RBI shy of the Marshall single-season record of 73, set by Jason Brooks in 2001.  He is Marshall's first All-American since Brooks earned second-team honors following the 2001 campaign.  Outfielder Brit Vincent was one of four Thundering Herd hitters to crack the .300 barrier last season (.301).  Vincent played in all but one of the Herd's 54 games and was one of Marshall's best contact hitters with just 21 strikeouts in 208 plate appearances. 

 

MEMPHIS

The Tigers finished the 2006 season with a 32-28 record, an improvement of 19 games in the win column over the 2005 campaign.  Senior 1B Adam Amar earned first team All-C-USA honors last season and was named a preseason NCBWA Third Team All-American this year after finishing 2006 with a league-leading .395 batting average, along with 17 doubles, 10 home runs and 66 RBI.  In Conference USA games, he was second in batting (.459) and on-base percentage (.525), while leading the league in hits (45) and RBI (38).  Junior CF K.K. Chalmers finished the season 39-of-43 on stolen base attempts.  The 39 steals allowed him to tie Memphis' single-season record set by former head coach Dave Anderson in 1981.  Chalmers has stolen 56 bases in his first two years as a Tiger, good for third on the program's all-time stolen base list.  Senior designated hitter Joey Lieberman smacked a team-leading 13 home runs last season and nearly half (20) of his 43 hits went for extra-bases.  Sophomore righthander Scott McGregor was named second team All-Conference USA as well as earning a spot on the All-Freshman team after going 7-3 with three complete games. 

 

RICE

Rice dropped to 2-3 on the season after a 1-3 week that saw a one-run loss on the road, a two-run loss to longtime rival Texas A&M and a 7-3 defeat against Vanderbilt All-American P David Price.  The Owls had the lead in all three of the eventual defeats, but didn't extinguish some late rallies by the opposition on all three occasions.  Rice has been without all-America reliever Cole St.Clair in the early-going, but the pitching was pretty steady. For the four games last week, the entire Rice staff maintained a 2.60 ERA and held 127 hitters to a composite .220 batting average.  Six new pitchers made their Rice debut, including true freshman Ryan Berry who posted a win over Baylor in his first NCAA start by firing 6.0 shutout innings against nationally-ranked Bears. Berry, a right-hander from Humble, Texas, scattered three hits and a walk while striking out a team-best seven. The Owls also have had an solid outings by junior left-hander Joe Savery, who has allowed only two hits in 6.0 shutout innings, and former MLB draft pick Ryne Tacker who has allowed just three hits while striking out five in 6.0 shutout innings. Tacker was sidelined all of last season... The Owls are currently batting a composite .220 with a .321 slugging percentage.  After hitting .417 in three games at the Houston College Classic, junior Chad Lembeck was named to the Classic's all-tournament team along with freshman pitcher Ryan Berry and junior shortstop Brian Friday.  Friday had three hits with a double, a run and stolen base, and he also started or turned all five of the team's double plays over the weekend. 

 

SOUTHERN MISS

The Golden Eagles made their fourth consecutive NCAA appearance last season, competing in the Tuscaloosa Regional as the No. 3 seed.   Senior RHP Ryan Belanger is the team's top returning pitcher.  In 24 appearances last season, he was 8-3 with a 3.82 ERA.  He struck out 62 and walked just 24 in 66 innings pitched.  USM will look to a pair of highly-regarded freshman pitchers for contributions.  Righthander Todd McInnis was named Mr. Baseball in Mississippi after going 10-1 with a 1.25 ERA and 120 strikeouts.  Righthander Jared Cavenaugh is a two-time All-State performer at Newton County (Miss.) High school and was the Class 3A Player of the Year in 2006 after going 17-1 with a 0.89 ERA and 164 K's.  Southern Miss placed a league-high three players on the C-USA All-Freshman team: shortstop Brian Dozier, first baseman Michael Ewing and outfielder Luke Adkins.  Dozier batted .368 with four triples, 11 stolen bases and 39 RBI.  Ewing hit .313 with a team-high 15 doubles, eight homers and 41 RBI.  Adkins is at .286 with eight round-trippers and 43 RBI.  The Golden Eagles talented young infield received another boost when sophomore 3B, James Ewing, brother of first baseman Michael Ewing, transferred from Arkansas.  In his only season in Fayetteville, Ewing batted .366 in 34 games with a team-high .429 on-base percentage, 12 2B and 22 RBI.

 

TULANE

The Green Wave opened the season with an impressive 19-4 win over Southeastern Louisiana on February 9, as all nine Tulane starters registered at least one hit.  The Wave scored 15 runs in the seventh and eighth innings, including a nine-run eighth, as 15 batters stepped to the plate in the frame.  Highlighting the late offensive onslaught was a grand slam by sophomore OF Rustin Rebowe, his first collegiate homer.  Partially lost in the offensive show was a strong pitching performance by junior RHP Sean Morgan, who allowed just one run on five hits, along with a lead-off walk.  He also struck out nine in his seven innings on the mound.  Tulane was upset in the final two games of the series, including a shutout loss on Sunday.  Junior SS Cat Everett led the Wave in hitting on the weekend, going 6-for-13 (.462) with a double and two RBI.  Sophomore OF Warren McFadden was 5-for-12 (.417) with a home run and five RBI.

 

UAB

2007 marks a new era in UAB baseball as head coach Brian Shoop takes over the helm after an impressive stint at Birmingham-Southern. Shoop won 692 games in 17 seasons at BSC, guiding his teams to 40 or more wins nine times and at least 32 wins in 16 of his 17 years.  UAB returns eight of its nine starters from last season. Leading the pack of returnees is senior catcher Danny Sawyer who hit .305, while leading the Blazers in doubles (16) and RBI (47).  Senior outfielder Steven Turner is also back after hitting .304 and stealing a team-best 13 bases.  Senior third basemen Ryne Lovdahl will also provide a strong bat in the line-up in 2007 after the slugger left the yard with a team-high eight homers. Junior RHP Jimbo Crew led the team in wins (6), innings pitched (77.1) and strikeouts (49) last season.  Opponents batted just .237 against him, lowest on UAB's staff and seventh-lowest in Conference USA.  Some new faces could stir things up at UAB this spring as a handful of players transferred over to UAB from Birmingham-Southern.  Redshirt sophomore Brint Hardy stands out amongst that group, as does sophomore third baseman Allen Aubin. Hardy hit .346 with 31 RBI and 18 stolen bases for the Panthers last season, while Aubin hit .283 with 36 RBI. 

 

UCF

The Golden Knights hosted No. 15 TCU over the weekend, dropping the first two games of the series before scoring seven unanswered runs in an 8-6 win on Sunday.  All 11 of UCF's hits on the day were singles, with junior IF Dwayne Bailey, junior IF Tim Russell and sophomore C Steve Stropp each posting a pair of hits.  The hits were the first of Russell's Golden Knight career and he also had a pair of RBI in his first start.  Sophomore OF Chadd Hartman had a career-high three RBI in Sunday's win.  UCF had only three players steal at least three bases last season. Through five games in 2007, Bailey already has four. Bailey also has scored seven runs this year.  Ryan Williams' solo homer in the sixth inning on Saturday was the first UCF pinch-hit home run since Drake Wade's shot against LSU Feb. 15, 2004.  It was also the first home run of the season for the Golden Knights.  With 905 fans venturing to Jay Bergman Field Sunday, a total of 2,727 people flocked to the ballpark on the weekend, marking the fifth-largest attendance for a three-game series in stadium history. 

THE POLLS

 

Baseball America (Feb. 12)

1.         Clemson (0-0)

2.         North Carolina (0-0)

3.         South Carolina (3-0)

4.         Vanderbilt (3-0)

5.         Miami-Fla. (3-2)

6.         Arkansas (4-2)

7.         RICE (2-3)

8.         Virginia (2-1)

9.         Florida State (6-0)

10.       Oregon State (7-0)

11.       Wichita State (0-0)

12.       Cal State Fullerton (5-1)

13.       Arizona State (5-1)

14.       Texas (3-4)

15.       UCLA (0-3)

16.       Georgia Tech (0-2)

17.       Oklahoma State (3-0)

18.       San Diego (6-3)

19.       Nebraska (0-0)

20.       Tennessee (2-4)

21.       Evansville (2-1)

22.       TULANE (1-2)

23.       Pepperdine (4-2)

24.       TCU (2-1)

25.       Winthrop (1-2)

 

Collegiate Baseball (Feb. 12)

1.         Clemson (0-0)

2.         South Carolina (3-0)

3.         Vanderbilt (3-0)

4.         North Carolina (0-0)

5.         Florida State (6-0)

6.         RICE (2-3)

7.         Nebraska (0-0)

8.         Cal State Fullerton (5-1)

9.         Arkansas (4-2)

10.       Virginia (2-1)

11.       Arizona State (5-1)

12.       Oregon State (7-0)

13.       Miami-Fla. (3-2)

14.       Georgia Tech (0-2)

15.       Mississippi (2-0)

16.       TCU (2-1)

17.       Arizona (8-0)

18.       Wichita State (0-0)

19.       Pepperdine (4-2)

20.       Long Beach State (4-2)

21.       Southern California (5-3)

22.       San Diego (6-3)

23.       Texas (3-4)

24.       Oklahoma State (3-0)

25.       TULANE (1-2)

26.       Evansville (2-1)

27.       Oral Roberts (2-0)

28.       Texas A&M (3-1)

29.       Cal Riverside (5-1)

30.       North Carolina State (3-0)

 

DRAFT PROSPECTS

In its Feb. 12 issue, Baseball America outlined its top 100 college prospects for the June Major League Baseball Draft.  Conference USA had nine of the top 100 prospects, all hailing from either Rice or Tulane.  Here's a look at those prospects:

 

5.             Joe Savery, LHP, Rice

12.            Cole St.Clair, LHP, Rice

44.            Warren McFadden, OF, Tulane

50.            Brad Emaus, IF, Tulane

52.            Sean Morgan, RHP, Tulane

67.            Tyler Henley, OF, Rice

75.            Brian Friday, SS, Rice

87.            Bobby Bell, RHP, Rice

97.            Danny Lehmann, C, Rice

 

C-USA VS. RANKED FOES

Last season, seven of the league's nine teams own a win over a ranked non-conference foe, combining to produce 20 total ranked wins.  This past weekend, Houston, Rice and UCF posted the league's first wins over ranked foes in 2007.

 

Feb. 9.................. Houston 4, (20) Baylor 2

Feb. 10................ Rice 7, (20) Baylor 0

Feb. 11................ UCF 8, (15) TCU 6

 

 


 

 

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