March 5 Baseball Notebook
March 5, 2007
Boyd's World released its initial RPI ratings of the 2007 season on Monday, March 5 and Conference USA is the No. 2 ranked conference in the country, trailing only the SEC. Individually, Southern Miss is the No. 1 ranked school in the RPI ratings. Memphis is No. 5, Rice is No. 9 and Tulane is No. 11.
HITTERS OF THE WEEK
BILL MOSS, MEMPHIS
Senior, 2B, Germantown, Tenn.
Moss erupted for a very productive week, batting .500 (8-for-16) and slugging 1.125 to lead Memphis to a perfect 4-0 record and the AutoZone Classic title this week. The Tiger senior added a team-high three home runs, five RBI and three runs scored while earning tournament MVP honors. He posted multiple hits and homered in three of the four contests, including recording three hits against UT-Martin and Indiana.
NATE SIMON, TULANE
Sophomore, OF/DH, Duvall, Wash.
Simon hit .500 (6-for-12) with a 1.000 slugging percentage on the strength of two doubles and two home runs in helping lead Tulane to a 4-0 week. He had at least one hit and one RBI in all four games, opening and closing the week with home runs, marking the first two round-trippers of his career. Simon went 3-for-4 with a double and a home run in Tuesday's 8-3 win at arch-rival LSU and also had two-hit outings in Friday and Sunday's games against Wright State.
PITCHER OF THE WEEK
DAVID CLARK, SOUTHERN MISS
Junior, RHP, Columbia, Miss.
Clark pitched the first complete-game and the first shutout of his career in a 1-0 win against No. 29 Louisiana-Lafayette on Sunday. He struck out seven and allowed just one runner to reach second base and that came on a wild pitch. Clark allowed just four hits, all singles, retired 12 of his first 15 batters and sat down the final six batters that he faced.
The Pirates were 2-1 at the fourth annual Keith LeClair Classic, knocking off No. 12 Pepperdine and Western Carolina, while falling to N.C. State in extra innings. Senior OF Ryan Tousley picked up four hits on the weekend, batting .333. Against Pepperdine, he single handily beat the Waves as he picked up his first career four-hit game, going 4-for-4 with three RBI and one run scored. He cashed in with a game-tying two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning and his single in the seventh put the Pirates on top for good 5-4. Sophomore RHP Josh Dowdy made his second start of the season against in-state foe Western Carolina pitching a season-best 8.0 innings, allowing two runs on three hits and striking out five in a no-decision. For the second time this season, Dowdy allowed just three hits and pitched into the sixth inning. The Pirate bullpen was impressive yet again as they did not allow an earned run in 6 2/3 innings of relief. The quartet of relievers, which included Shane Mathews, Brett Butts, Josh Ruhlman and Jason Neitz, allowed just five hits and fanned six batters. Mathews picked up his third save of the season in the opening game of the LeClair Classic pitching a scoreless ninth with a pair of strikeouts. Junior RHP Brett Butts picked up his first win as a Pirate after closing out the ninth frame against Western Carolina, with one strikeout. On the weekend he worked 2 1/3 innings surrendering one hit.
The Cougars were 1-3 last week, including a pair of one-run losses. Tuesday's 4-3 loss at Texas-San Antonio snapped an eight-game winning streak by UH over the Roadrunners. Junior RHP Aaron Brown threw a UH-season-best seven innings against Northwestern State during that series finale. He left after seven innings with a 3-2 lead but did not pick up a decision as the Demons rallied late to tie and eventually win 6-5 in 10 innings. Earlier in the series, Brown picked up his first save of the season after holding NSU scoreless during the final 1.2 innings. Sophomore DH Jimmy Cesario saw his career-best hitting streak snapped after going 0-for-5 during the Northwestern State series finale. Cesario, who has hit safely in all but two of the Cougars 16 games in 2007, continues to leads UH with a .424 batting average, 25 runs scored, a .644 slugging percentage and a .477 on-base percentage. Cesario saw his first action in the field during the 2007 season in left field during the Northwestern State series finale. Senior 1B Josh Stirneman extended his hitting streak to a career-best-tying eight straight games after hitting safely in all four games last week. He is tied for the team lead with four home runs and second with 15 RBIs, only one off the pace of senior SS Dustin Kingsbury. Redshirt freshman southpaw Wes Musick struck out a career-best seven batters in another personal-high 6.1 innings against Northwestern State on Saturday.
The Thundering Herd swept back-to-back doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday from Buffalo. Included were a pair of 1-0 wins, marking the first time in school history that Marshall has won back-to-back games by a 1-0 score. They were the first back-to-back shutouts by any score since blanking Kentucky Christian in consecutive outings in 1987. The four-game sweep was the first for a Herd club since doing it against Dayton in 1975. Marshall pitchers held Buffalo scoreless for 24-consecutive innings over the weekend. In the five games last week, the staff allowed just seven earned runs (41 innings) and posted an ERA of 1.54, lowering the team's season mark to 2.82. Senior LHP Brian Chrisman followed up junior RHP Adam Dobies' fabulous Saturday start with one of his own on Sunday. Chrisman tossed seven innings, allowing just five hits and a walk while striking out a career-high 11 which topped his previous best of nine, set twice last year. Freshman OF Mason Chapman had a pair of doubles, three RBI and four runs scored in the doubleheader sweeps. With two one-run victories, Marshall improved to 4-0 this season in one-run games. The Herd was 3-9 last year in one-run contests.
Memphis went 4-0 this week and won the inaugural AutoZone Classic at AutoZone Park in downtown Memphis. The Tigers opened the weekend with a 2-1 win over UT-Martin on Tuesday and posted wins over Northern Iowa, Indiana and Eastern Illinois. Senior 2B Bill Moss (double, two homers, five RBI) was named the Classic's MVP, while sophomore DH Joey Lieberman, senior 3B Kyle Norrid, junior CF K.K. Chalmers and junior RHP Mark Doll were named All-Tournament performers. Memphis pitchers continue to put up impressive numbers. After giving up 12 runs in the season-opener at Ole Miss, the Tiger pitching staff has yet to give up more than four runs and in seven games and has posted a 1.55 ERA. Redshirt sophomore Will Hudgens was successful in his second career outing. The Tiger reliever came on in the ninth against Eastern Illinois to record the save. In two appearances, Hudgens is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and a save. Sophomore RHP Matt Yokley earned a pair of wins out of the bullpen last week. In three appearances this season, he has not allowed an earned run and has struck out 10 batters in eight innings pitched. The Tigers won a pair of games in their final at-bat last week and raised their record in one-run games to 4-0 on the year. At 7-1, Memphis is off to its best start since 1994. That squad won 11 of its first 12 games and went on to post a program-best 52 wins. The Tigers Spring Break road trip to Samford and No. 2 Clemson will be the first real road test of the year. The Tigers will play five games over a six day span.
Rice moved to 11-6 on the season after going 2-2 in four road games last week. The Owls defeated national power Cal State Fullerton 9-3 on the road on Saturday behind a season-high 16 hits. The victory marked Rice's sixth win over a nationally-ranked team this season. The Rice-Fullerton series was only the second matchup so far this season of teams that had reached the 2006 College World Series. For the four games last week All-America candidate Joe Savery batted .500 by going 8-for-16 with a walk. Savery is a career .348 hitter, but also a standout left-handed pitcher who only needs one more inning pitched to reach 200 innings in his collegiate career. Last week, junior CF Tyler Henley broke the Rice career record for times hit by a pitch. Henley has now been hit 50 times in his Rice career, passing Chris Kolkhorst's school record of 49 set in 2004. Junior LHP Bobby Bramhall is now 2-2 on the season after picking up the win at Cal State Fullerton. Earlier in the week, he earned a save at Sam Houston State. The Owls are 8-1 when playing at home at Reckling Park and 3-5 when playing elsewhere. Rice better get use to a taxing time on the road over the next few weeks. The team is scheduled for only nine home games and 17 away games between Feb. 27 and tax day on April 15.
The Golden Eagles won two-of-three from No. 29 Louisiana-Lafayette over the weekend, its first wins over a ranked opponent this season. The Southern Miss pitching staff continued to shine in four games last week, going 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 36 innings pitched. The unit struck out 29, walked nine and held opponents to a .220 batting average. Senior RHP Ryan Belanger picked up his third win of the season against Louisiana-Lafayette on Friday night, pitching 6.2 innings, giving up three earned runs on seven hits, walking two and striking out five. Senior RHP Patrick Ezell is making a successful switch to being the team's closer. He earned saves last week against Southeastern Louisiana and Louisiana-Lafayette. In five appearances this season, he is 1-0 with four saves and has yet to yield a walk or a run. Junior 2B Trey Sutton is hitting .340 with a team-leading five doubles, one triple and a team-leading 11 RBIs. He has also drawn eight walks, giving him a .436 on-base percentage. Through the first 12 games of the season, Southern Miss has produced 24 extra-base hits, while its opponents have hit just eight.
The Green Wave was 4-0 last week, opening the week with an 8-3 victory at in-state rival LSU last Tuesday before sweeping a three-game series from Wright State over the weekend. While the Green Wave pitching staff posted a 3.15 ERA in Tulane's 4-0 week, the starters were even better. In four starts, the combination of Matt Goebel, Brandon Gomes, Shooter Hunt and Sean Morgan posted a 1.54 ERA while striking out 28 batters and walking just five while limiting opponents to a .171 batting average (14-for-82). Taking the mound on a pitch count on Tuesday at LSU, Goebel gave up just one earned run while striking out four in 4.1 innings. For the season, Tulane starters have a 2.78 ERA, 80 strikeouts and just 15 walks while limiting foes to a .236 batting average in 74.1 innings of work. All three weekend starters posted eight strikeouts each, and Gomes did not issue a walk in Friday's extra-inning win. In his four trips to the mound last week, senior RHP Daniel Latham posted a pair of saves, a 2.08 ERA, four strikeouts and no walks in 4.1 innings of work. Last season, Tulane hit just four home runs in its first 13 games of the season. This year, they have raised that total to 11, led by junior IF Brad Emaus, who has hit three.
The Blazers posted their first back-to-back wins of the season on Friday and Saturday, shutting out Central Arkansas by identical scores of 8-0. In Saturday's contest, the Blazers scored all eight of their runs in the sixth inning. On Friday, sophomore RHP Mitch Klowskowski carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, eventually settling for a one-hitter over eight innings. He struck out a career-high six and walking one. On the season, Klowskowski has a 1.76 ERA and has held opposing batters to a .135 batting average. Freshman LHP Shay Crawford earned his first collegiate win on Saturday, throwing 6.2 innings in which he allowed no runs and just three hits, while striking out a career-high four batters. Junior 2B Tyler Rollin was 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI in Friday night's win. The Blazers smacked a season-high three triples in that game as junior 2B J.R. Bond, senior OF Steven Turner and junior Ryan Keedy all legged out three-baggers.
The Golden Knights were 2-2 last week, winning a non-conference game against Michigan before dropping two-of-three against Monmouth over the weekend. Freshman 3B Chris Duffy entered last week batting just .125 before going 11-for-19 (.579) with four doubles, three runs scored and seven RBI. He was 4-for-6 with two doubles and five RBI in Saturday's 11-10 win. Sophomore OF Chadd Hartmann matched his career high with two hits and also stole two bases in a game for the first time in his career in Saturday's victory. That Saturday win came in the 1,500th game that head coach Jay Bergman has coached UCF in 25 seasons. The Golden Knights tied a season high with 14 hits in Sunday's 13-4 loss to Monmouth. UCF left 13 runners on base, the third straight game they have left 10 or more runners stranded on the basepaths. Freshman OF Shane Brown provide his second straight game-winning hit in the 7-6 victory over Michigan on Feb. 27. His bases-loaded single in the bottom of the 10th inning gave UCF back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
Conference USA teams posted an 11-2 record in one run games this past weekend. On the season, league schools are 21-10 in games decided by just one run. Marshall, Memphis and UCF lead the way with 4-0 records in such games.
SOUTHERN MISS RANKED
Southern Miss has broken into the national rankings for the first time this season. The Golden Eagles appear at No. 27 in this week's Collegiate Baseball poll. USM joins Rice and Tulane in becoming the third C-USA team to be nationally-ranked.
One of the storylines developing early in the 2007 season is the strength of the pitching in Conference USA. Four staffs currently have team ERA's that are under 3.00 and six are 3.60 or less. Here's a look at each team's ERA:
1. Southern Miss 2.27
2. Rice 2.37
3. Memphis 2.75
4. Marshall 2.82
5. Tulane 3.13
6. East Carolina 3.60
7. UAB 5.02
8. UCF 5.64
9. Houston 6.15
A number of Conference USA schools have won tournament titles this season. Here's a look at them:
East Carolina - ECU Invitational, Greenville, N.C. Feb. 23-25.
Houston - Southwest Diamond Classic, Frisco, Texas, Feb. 23-25.
Memphis - Service Acadmies Spring Classic, Millington, Tenn., Feb. 23-25; AutoZone Classic, Memphis, Tenn., Mar. 2-4.
Rice - Rice Invitational, Houston, Texas, Feb. 23-25.
Southern Miss - Coca-Cola Classic, Hattiesburg, Miss., Feb. 16-18
LAST WEEK'S STARS
Other than the players of the week, here's a look at some of the top performances in Conference USA during the games of February 26-March 4:
ECU - BRANDON HENDERSON - posted a .573 (7-for-13) average in the Keith LeClair Classic, hitting a home run against N.C. State and doubling to drive in the game-winning run against Western Carolina.
HOU - BRYAN TULLY - led the Cougars at the plate last week, notching a pair of multiple-hit games and posting a .385 average (5-for-13). He also had a pair of doubles, a home run and two RBI.
MAR - BRET VINCENT - hit .500 (7-for-14) in back-to-back doubleheaders against Buffalo, recording three multiple hit outings. He had one RBI and scored three runs.
RICE - JOE SAVERY - batted .500 (8-for-16) in four games last week, with three multiple hit games. He also had a double, a walk and scored one run.
USM - JODY BLOUNT - hit .333 (5-for-15) last week, including a triple, a walk and four RBI. Had two multiple hit games.
UAB - PHIL BELL - hit .500 (4-for-8) in three games last week, recording a pair of multiple hit outings. Added a double, a walk, a stolen base and scored twice.
UCF - CHRIS DUFFY - entered last week batting just .125 before going 11-for-19 (.579) with four doubles, three runs scored and seven RBI. He was 4-for-6 with two doubles and five RBI in Saturday's 11-10 win.
ECU - T.J. HOSE - earned the win over No. 12 Pepperdine, throwing a season-best 7.2 innings. He tied his season high with seven strikeouts, walked one and allowed four runs on six hits. Retired 16 of the final 18 batters that he faced.
HOU - LUIS FLORES - earned the win over Northwestern State on Mar. 2 while making his first start of the season. Threw five innings, allowing two runs on five hits, while striking out six and walking only one.
MAR - ADAM DOBIES - tossed Marshall's first shutout in nearly three years on Saturday vs. Buffalo. He struck out nine and walked just one, while allowing just two hits in the complete-game win.
MEM - MATT YOKLEY - earned a pair of wins in relief, not allowing an earned run in 3.2 innings of work. He struck out five, walked two and allowed just two hits in defeating Tennessee-Martin and Eastern Illinois.
RICE - BOBBY BRAMHALL - earned a win and a save in relief last week, holding 23 batters faced to a .217 batting average. He did not allow a run, surrendering just a pair of hits, striking out nine and walking six.
TLN - DANIEL LATHAM - pitched in all four games last week, earning a pair of saves. In 4.1 total innings pitched, he allowed one run on four hits. He struck out four and did not walk a batter.
UAB - MITCH KLOWSKOWSKI - carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning against Central Arkansas. Allowed just one hit over eight innings pitched, striking out a career-high six and walking one for his first win of the year.