Feb. 25 Baseball Notebook

Go C-USA! Matt Langwell
Matt Langwell

Feb. 25, 2008

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The annual Minute Maid College Classic highlights this week's action in Conference USA.  No. 9 Rice and Houston will take part in the three-day event in downtown Houston, with each team facing Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech from the Big 12 Conference.  No. 18 Tulane will also participate in a weekend tournament at a major league stadium, facing Pepperdine, Minnesota and TCU in the Dairy Queen Classic at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.  No. 29 Southern Miss has a pair of games at No. 25 Louisiana-Lafayette this coming weekend, while UAB visits 2007 CWS participant Mississippi State on Tuesday.






Senior, SS, Tampa, Fla.

Bailey was 10-for-15 (.667) as UCF swept Florida A&M over the weekend.  He scored seven runs in the series, had two doubles, a triple, two walks and two RBI, while stealing three bases.  Bailey began his season by setting career highs with five hits and four runs scored in a 5-for-5 performance in Friday's 17-1 victory.




Junior, RHP, College Station, Texas

Langwell helped the Owls snap a four-game losing streak that dated back to last year's College World Series with a strong performance at No. 13 Long Beach State on Sunday.   He fired 6 2/3 innings of three-hit ball, striking out eight and walking two to give Rice a game three win in a series dominated by pitching.







The Pirates opened the 2008 season with the challenging task of playing a three-game series at No. 2 South Carolina.  After dropping a tough opener, East Carolina posted a 13-4 win in game two, as junior IF/OF Brandon Henderson hit his first career grand slam.  In game three on Sunday, the Pirates scored once in the top of the 11th inning only to surrender two in the bottom half of the frame and drop the series, two games to one.  Senior OF Jamie Ray was solid at the plate for ECU, going 6-for-13 (.462) with triples on Saturday and Sunday.  He has now extended his hitting streak to 18 games.  Senior OF Harrison Eldridge also batted .462, notching a pair of hits from his leadoff spot in each game.  Junior 1B Stephen Batts saw his 29-game hitting streak come to an end in the season opener when he went 0-for-4.  The streak was second-longest in school history and third-longest in Conference USA annals.  ECU registered double-digit hits in each game against the Gamecocks, batting .310 as a team with nine extra-base hits.  Saturday's win snapped a nine-game losing streak to South Carolina that dated back to 1980.  It also marked just the second time that the Pirates have defeated the No. 2-ranked team in the country (Rice in 2006).



The Cougars won two-of-three from Big West member Pacific on opening weekend.  Senior OF Jake Stewart was 7-for-12 with two runs, a double and RBI.  He hit safely in all three games, increasing his hit total each day.  Stewart tied career-high with four hits during the series finale, as he knocked in the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning with a two-out RBI-single down the right-field line.  Stewart was returning to the Houston lineup after missing all but four games last season with a shoulder injury.  Several freshmen made their impacts felt immediately during their first collegiate series.  Freshman SS Blake Kelso went 5-for-12 with a run, double and three RBIs and hit safely in all three games.  He extended the ninth-inning rally during the series finale by drawing a one-out walk.  Freshman 1B Matt Murphy went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored during the series opener in his debut.  He slapped a pinch-hit single in the eighth inning and eventually scored to help pull the Cougars to within a run in the eighth inning during the series finale.  Freshman DH Chase Dempsay hit safely in the first and last games of the Pacific series.  He went 2-for-4 with a run in the opener, batted 1-for-3 with a solo home run and two runs scored in the series finale and knotted the game at 9-9 with a home run to lead off the ninth inning and spark the rally.  Senior IF Bryan Pounds made his season debut a memorable one, batting 4-for-5 with a double, homer, two runs and two RBI during the series finale.  He set a career high in hits, topping his previous best of three done three previous times.  Pounds started the ninth-inning rally with a one-out single and eventually scored the game-winning run.



The Thundering Herd opened the season with a 14-9 win over Western Carolina on Friday before dropping the final two games of the series to the Catamounts.  Junior CF Nate Lape was Marshall's top hitter in the series, recording two hits in each outing and finishing the weekend 6-for-10 to go along with four walks that gave him a .714 on-base percentage.  He had a pair of stolen bases on Friday, a pair of doubles on Saturday and a pair of home runs on Sunday.  Senior C Tommy Johnson batted .429 (6-for-13) on the weekend with a triple, two homers and a team-best seven RBI.  Junior SS Adam Yeager, a transfer from Cincinnati, enjoyed his debut game in a Marshall uniform, going 4-for-6 with a double in Friday's win.  The Herd hit .325 as a team with 17 extra-base hits (including eight homers) in the series.  Junior LHP Andrew Blain , who tied for the team lead in wins last season, earned the opening day victory, tallying five strikeouts in five innings pitched.  He allowed just two runs and walked two.



The new-look Tigers were 1-2 at the Service Academies Classic in nearby Millington, Tenn. over the weekend, dropping a 3-1 decision to Seton Hall and a 1-0 game to Ohio State before defeating Air Force, 4-3.  The Memphis pitching staff posted some strong numbers, earning a 1.67 team ERA with 27 strikeouts and just two walks.  Freshman LHP Marcus Barnes had an impressive collegiate debut against Air Force, striking out five batters in two shutout innings.  Junior RHP Matt Yokley, who set a new single-season school record for saves last season with nine, earned his first save of 2008 with a scoreless ninth in which he fanned two.  None of the three Tiger starting pitchers (Scott McGregor, Marc Ashley, Philip Utley) walked a batter in their outings that covered a combined 17 innings.



Rice is 1-2 on the year, the exact same record the Owls had after the first three games of last season before finishing up with a 56-14 record.  The Blue & Gray opened the year with three road games at No. 13 Long Beach State. Rice won the Sunday finale 3-1 after dropping the first two by a single run, 1-0 in 10 innings on Friday and 3-2 on Saturday.  The Owls' pitchers threw well in the three games. Seven hurlers combined for a 1.35 ERA in 26.2 innings of work, allowing 20 hits with seven walks while striking out 29.  Rice pitchers faced 94 Dirtbag batters and held the opposition to a composite .213 average.  Sophomore RHP Ryan Berry threw seven shutout frames on opening day, striking out eight with no walks but earned a no-decision. Senior Cole St.Clair (the closer last season) started game two and allowed one run with four K's in 4.0 innings. Junior Matt Langwell was sharp in notching the win Sunday. He struck out eight in 6.2 innings and allowed just three hits and two walks.  Junior RHP Bryan Price has taken over St.Clair's spot as the closer and he earned a save of Langwell's game Sunday. He struck out a career-high four batters, including one K with the bases loaded in the seventh.  Senior J.P. Padron led the team on offense, collecting five hits in 11 at bats (.455) with an RBI, a run scored and a stolen base during three-straight pitcher's duels.  Freshman Rick Hague started at shortstop and collected two doubles in his first game at the Division I level.  Sophomore 3B Diego Seastrunk, who made the all-College World Series team last season as a freshman, batted .333 for the weekend with a pair of doubles and two runs scored.



The Golden Eagles opened the season with a three-game sweep over Lipscomb and are 3-0 for the fifth consecutive year.  Senior 1B Trey Sutton had at least one hit in each outing, extending his hitting streak to 24 games, dating back to April 15, 2007.  Junior SS Brian Dozier led Southern Miss at the plate, batting .455 (5-for-11) in the series.  He scored three times and also drove in three runs.  Senior C Keith Winstead had three hits on the weekend, but none bigger than the pinch-hit, game-winning single on Sunday that completed a 9-8 victory.  Senior RHP Barry Bowden was solid on the mound in earning the opening day win on Friday.  He threw 5.1 innings of three-hit ball, allowing just one run and striking out four.  Senior LHP Tyler Conn recorded saves in both of his appearances against Lipscomb.  He threw one inning in each game, retiring five of his six outs via the strike out.  Conn allowed just one hit and did not walk a batter.



The Green Wave opened the 2008 season in fine fashion as Tulane swept 2007 NCAA Regional participant Illinois Chicago over the weekend at the new Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.  The weekend series vs. the Flames marked the first time the Wave has played on campus since June 13, 2005.  Tulane opened the year with a 6-0 shutout on Friday, came from behind twice on Saturday to claim a 4-3 win and overcame an early 2-0 deficit on Sunday - including a five-run fifth - to give the Green Wave their first 3-0 start since 2005.  Junior RHP Shooter Hunt was impressive on Friday night, throwing six scoreless innings.  He struck out eight and allowed three hits, while not walking a batter.  The Tulane bullpen did not allow a run in 10.0 innings of relief, as the unit accounted for a win, a save, three strikeouts and a .147 opponent batting average (5-for-34).  Junior closer Mason Griffin and sophomore Preston Claiborne both appeared in a pair of games with Griffin picking up the save and Claiborne getting the win on Saturday. Junior Trey Martin tossed a pair of scoreless innings on Friday, and rookie Nick Pepitone did the same on Sunday.  Juniors Jared Dyer and Aja Barto were the team's top performers at the plate on opening weekend, with each going 5-for-12 (.455) with four runs scored.  Dyer added a double and two home runs with three RBI, while Barto homered and drove in two runs.



The Blazers opened the 2008 season with a four game series against Ball State in Birmingham.  UAB won the first two games of the year before dopping the final two contests.  Friday's 8-7 victory gave the Blazers their seventh straight opening day victory and raised their all-time record to 23-7 in season openers.  Junior RHP Mitch Kloskowski was solid in Friday's opener, striking out seven, walking just one and allowing one run on three hits over six innings.  Senior Ryan Keedy hit .471 (8-for-17) in the series with three doubles and seven RBI.  Junior OF Austin Taylor, a transfer from Holmes CC, enjoyed a productive first weekend in a UAB uniform, hitting safely in all four games.  He was 7-for-15 (.467) in the series with a double, a triple and four RBI.  Senior OF Phil Bell also hit safely in each outing, going 5-for-13 (.385) with a double and five RBI.



UCF set a school record for most runs in a three-game series as it racked up 50 against Florida A&M.  The Knights finished the opening weekend sweep by outscoring the Rattlers, 50-5.  All nine Knight starters scored at least one run in the final two games of the series vs. FAMU.  The Knights stole 10 bases in the finale vs. the Rattlers on Sunday, which was three shy of tying the school's all-time record. UCF went 14-for-14 overall in stolen bases on the weekend.  The Knights matched a program record for runs on opening day when it scored 17 against Florida A&M last Friday.  Fourteen different Knights posted at least one RBI during the three-game series with FAMU.  Sophomore Shane Brown, playing first base in place of the injured Kiko Vazquez, went 6-for-12 (.500) with three doubles and seven RBI.  Junior OF Chadd Hartman had just one hit on the weekend in two at-bats, but he made it count, smacking a three-run homer on Sunday, his first home run since May 20, 2006.  All UCF three starters (Jaager Good, Kyle Sweat, Mitch Herold) were under a pitch count, but they still each went at least 5.0 innings in the sweep, combining for 22 strikeouts and just four walks in 15.2 innings. 





Baseball America (Feb. 25)

1.         Arizona (2-1)

2.         Mississippi (3-0)

3.         UCLA (1-1)

4.         North Carolina (3-0)

5.         Missouri (3-0)

6.         Arizona State (3-0)

7.         Vanderbilt (2-1)

8.         Michigan (3-0)

9.         Miami, Fla. (3-0)

10.       South Carolina (2-1)

11.       Long Beach State (2-1)

12.       Oregon State (1-2)

13.       Baylor (3-0)

14.       Texas (3-0)

15.       Rice (1-2)

16.       Virginia (4-0)

17.       San Diego (1-2)

18.       Tulane (3-0)

19.       Clemson (3-0)

20.       Wichita State (1-0)

21.       Oklahoma State (4-0)

22.       San Diego State (2-1)

23.       Cal. St. Fullerton (2-1)

24.       Fresno State (2-2)

25.       Louisiana-Lafayette (2-2)


Collegiate Baseball (Feb. 25)

1.         Arizona State (3-0)

2.         Arizona (2-1)

3.         South Carolina (2-1)

4.         Mississippi (3-0)

5.         North Carolina (3-0)

6.         Texas (3-0)

7.         Wichita State (1-0)

8.         Michigan (3-0)

9.         Vanderbilt (2-1)

10.       Long Beach State (2-1)

11.       Rice (1-2)

12.       Florida State (3-0)

13.       Clemson (3-0)

14.       Miami, Fla. (3-0)

15.       Missouri (3-0)

16.       Cal. St. Fullerton (2-1)

17.       Kentucky (3-0)

18.       San Diego (1-2)

19.       UCLA (1-1)

20.       Oregon State (1-2)

21.       Virginia (4-0)

22.       Georgia Tech (3-0)

23.       U.C. Irvine (2-0)

24.       Baylor (3-0)

25.       Oklahoma State (4-0)

26.       San Diego State (2-1)

27.       Louisville (2-1)

28.       Texas A&M (2-2)

29.       Pepperdine (2-1)

30.       Arkansas (3-0)


NCBWA (Feb. 25)

1.         Arizona State (3-0)

2.         North Carolina (3-0)

3.         Texas (3-0)

4.         Mississippi (3-0)

5.         South Carolina (2-1)

6.         Arizona (2-1)

7.         Vanderbilt (2-1)

8.         Miami, Fla. (3-0)

9.         Rice (1-2)

10.       Wichita State (1-0)

11.       Florida State (3-0)

12.       Long Beach State (2-1)

13.       Clemson (3-0)

14.       Michigan (3-0)

15.       Cal. St. Fullerton (2-1)

16.       Missouri (3-0)

17.       Oregon State (1-2)

18.       San Diego (1-2)

19.       Virginia (4-0)

20.       U.C. Irvine (2-0)

21.       UCLA (1-1)

22.       Baylor (3-0)

23.       Kentucky (3-0)

24.       Oklahoma State (4-0)

25.       Louisville (2-1)

26.       Coastal Carolina (3-0)

27.       Texas A&M (2-2)

28.       Georgia Tech (3-0)

29.       Southern Miss (3-0)

30.       Pepperdine (2-1)




Although it will take place three weeks later this season due to the NCAA common start date, the eighth annual Minute Maid College Classic in Houston promises to be another outstanding weekend of baseball.  Conference USA preseason favorite Rice and league rival Houston will be joined by Big 12 foes Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech, along with SEC standout Tennessee in the three-day tourney that runs from Fri., Feb. 29 - Sun., Mar 2.




Other than the players of the week, here's a look at some of the top performances in Conference USA during the games of opening weekend:



ECU - JAMIE RAY - had a hit in all three games at No. 2 South Carolina, going 6-for-13 (.462) with five runs scored.   He tripled on Saturday and Sunday and drove in three runs in the series.

HOU - RYAN LORMAND - was 5-for-12 (.417) against Pacific, including a pair of two-hit games.  He homered twice and drove in four runs.  His three-run homer on Sunday put the Cougars within a run and set the stage for the bottom of the ninth inning rally.

MAR - NATE LAPE - had a pair of hits in all three games at Western Carolina, going 6-for-10 (.600) with four walks.  He had a pair of doubles on Saturday and a pair of home runs on Sunday. Drove in three runs and scored six times in the series.

RICE - J.P. PADRON - led the Owls offense, going 5-for-11 (.455) with an RBI, a run scored and a stolen base in a pitching-dominated series at No. 13 Long Beach State.

USM - BRIAN DOZIER - batted .455 (5-for-11) as Southern swept Lipscomb on opening weekend.  He scored three times and also drove in three runs.

TLN - JARED DYER - had a hit in all three games against Illinois-Chicago, going 5-for-11 (.455) at the plate.  Opened the season with a three hit night, including a home run, on Friday.  Added a double and another home run in the series, while driving in three.

UAB - RYAN KEEDY - hit .471 (8-for-17) in the Blazers series against Ball State, recording three multiple-hit games.  He had three doubles, seven RBI and walked twice, while driving in five runs.



HOU - WES MUSICK - won on opening day for the second straight year, allowing just one run on four hits over six innings in a 3-1 win against Pacific.  He struck out six and walked two.

MAR - ANDREW BLAIN - picked up the opening day victory at Western Carolina. He threw five innings, allowing two runs on five hits.  He fanned five and walked two.

MEM - MARCUS BARNES - made his collegiate debut on Sunday against Air Force, striking out the first batter he faced.  Went on to strike out five of the six batters he retired over two scoreless innings to help Memphis to its first win of the season.

USM - TYLER CONN - recorded saves in both of his appearances against Lipscomb.  He threw one inning in each game, retiring five of his six outs via the strike out.  Allowed just one hit and did not walk a batter.

TLN - SHOOTER HUNT - threw six shutout innings against Illinois-Chicago on Friday, allowing just three hits.  He struck out eight and did not walk a batter.  Faced just two over the minimum and did not allow a runner past second base.

UAB - MITCH KLOSKOWSKI - picked up an opening day win vs. Ball State after allowing one run on three hits over six innings pitched.  He struck out seven and walked only one.

UCF - JAAGER GOOD - threw 5.2 innings of shutout ball in Friday's season opener against Florida A&M.  He did not allow a run and yielded just two hits, fanning eight and walking two.




The 2008 Conference USA Baseball Tournament will be held May 21-25 in New Orleans, La.  Tulane University will serve as the host institution for the event, which will be played at the brand-new Greer Field at Turchin Stadium on the Tulane campus.  The winner of the double-elimination tournament receives the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.



East Carolina and Rice produced the first ranked wins of the 2008 season on opening weekend, both on the road.


Feb. 23.................. East Carolina 13, (2) South Carolina 4

Feb. 24.................. Rice 3, (13) Long Beach State 1


East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, Rice, Southern Miss and UCF each posted wins over ranked foes during the 2007 season.  With 27 total ranked wins last season, the league surpassed the 2006 total of 20 victories over ranked opponents. 

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