May 3, 2010
Just three weekends remain in the regular season and it's shaping up as the most competitive top-to-bottom race in C-USA baseball history. Rice sits in first place, but just three games separate the second place squad from the ninth place team. The four league series' this coming weekend include: Rice at Marshall, East Carolina at Southern Miss, Tulane at Houston and UAB at Memphis.
HITTER OF THE WEEK
DILLON DAY, SOUTHERN MISS
Freshman, OF, Geismar, La.
Day was the sparkplug to the Golden Eagles three game sweep at Tulane this past weekend, the first time Southern Miss has ever swept a series from the Green Wave. Over the week, he hit .571 (8-14) with seven RBI and five runs scored. Day drew two walks and was hit by a pitch as well for a .632 on base percentage. In Friday's 16-2 win, he recorded three hits, knocking in a run and scoring two, but it was in Saturday's victory over the Green Wave he was clutch, knocking in two runs with a two-RBI triple and scoring a run in the 4-2 victory. Day had his second three hit game of the weekend in the series finale, with three singles, two of which were two-out RBI singles. Over the week he was 4-for-7 with runners in scoring position and 4-for-8 hitting with two outs without striking out in 18 plate appearances.
PITCHER OF THE WEEK
SETH MANESS, EAST CAROLINA
Junior, RHP, Pinehurst, N.C.
Maness tossed his second career complete game against Marshall on Saturday, allowing three runs on eight hits with eight strikeouts. He improved to 8-2 on the season (with eight consecutive victories) and 4-0 in league play in five starts this season. With the win, the right-hander from Pinehurst, N.C. improved to 16-2 all-time against C-USA members. He retired the side three times including nine of his first 11 batters and faced 37 total batters, getting Marshall to ground out 12 times and fly out seven to go along with his eight punch outs. This is the first Pitcher of the Week award for Maness this season, but the third of his career.
Here's a look at which teams own the tie-breakers in head-to-head Conference USA series in 2010:
RICE - HOU, TLN, UCF, ECU
MEM - RICE, MAR, TLN, UCF
MAR - UAB, USM, UCF
ECU - MEM, UAB, MAR
USM - HOU, TLN
TLN - MAR, ECU
HOU - UCF, MEM, UAB
UAB - USM, UCF
UCF - USM
Here's a look at who each team faces down the stretch in Conference USA series':
RICE - at Marshall, SOUTHERN MISS, UAB
MEM - UAB, at Southern Miss
MAR - RICE, at Houston
ECU - at Southern Miss, at UCF, HOUSTON
USM - EAST CAROLINA, at Rice, MEMPHIS
TLN - at Houston, at UAB, UCF
HOU - TULANE, MARSHALL, at East Carolina
UAB - at Memphis, TULANE, at Rice
UCF - EAST CAROLINA, at Tulane
The Pirates took two-of-three from Marshall over the weekend. Sophomore 3B Corey Thompson batted a team-best .529 (9-for-17) last week, which included hitting for the cycle on Friday vs. Marshall. He had two home runs, six RBI, scored seven runs, collected 16 total bases and slugged at a 1.059 clip. Sophomore C Zach Wright recorded his second career multi-home run game of the season when he blasted a pair of three-run shots against Marshall on Saturday. He drove in a career-best six RBI while also drawing a pair of walks. He currently leads the team with 13 round-trippers and is tied with Thompson with 46 RBI. Junior 2B Cam Freeman (third) and junior OF Trent Whitehead (second) also hit home runs on the week to highlight ECU's seven homer week. Freeman was homerless for 108 at-bats before he hit his solo shot to right center against Marshall on Saturday to lead off the fourth frame. Whitehead hit a solo shot at UNC Wilmington leading off the fifth inning, starting a five-run frame. Junior RHP Zach Woods improved to 6-2 on the season after picking up his second conference win in the series opener against Marshall. The right-hander scattered five hits over eight frames which included three over the final six innings.
The Cougars swept a doubleheader at UAB on Saturday to win the series two games to one. It was Houston's first C-USA doubleheader sweep since knocking off TCU on May 18, 2002. After hitting 25 home runs in the first 40 games of the season, the Houston bats exploded by hitting 10 round-trippers in the series vs. the Blazers. Senior C Chris Wallace finished the five-game week with a .350 batting average (7-for-20), hit three home runs and led the team with eight RBI and 16 total bases. He recorded all three of his home runs against UAB, including two in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader. Wallace had seven RBI in the three-game series. Freshman DH M.P. Cokinos was 4-for-8 in Saturday's doubleheader with a double, two home runs and three RBI. Junior OF Joel Ansley was 6-for-14 (.429) last week with a double, a home run, four RBI and four stolen bases. After drawing seven walks in the first 37 games he played this season, he walked seven times in five games last week. Freshman RHP Tanner Shiflett went a career-long 5.2 innings in relief in an extra-inning win over Lamar last Wednesday. He struck out a career-high seven batters in the outing, while only giving up one run on two hits. He struck out the side in the eighth inning and after giving up a hit in the fifth inning, he did not allow another hit until the 10th. Freshman RHP Eric Brooks turned in a career-long seven inning effort in game two on Saturday, posting a career-high-tying five strikeouts.
The Thundering Herd picked up a win in the series finale at East Carolina on Sunday after dropping the first two games. At 10-8 in conference play, Marshall has matched its highest win total in league play, set by the 2008 Herd. Junior RHP Arik Sikula continued to have strong outings against Conference USA opponents this season, improving to 3-0 in league play (602 overall) with the victory over ECU. He fired the first six innings against the Pirates, surrendering just one earned run on five singles with a career-high eight strikeouts. Three of the five hits he surrendered came in the first frame, as he held ECU to just two base knocks over the next five innings. On Sunday, senior RHP Tyler Gatrell has moved into second place in Marshall history in appearances with 83. The Herd pitching staff combined for 10-or-more K's twice in the series (Saturday and Sunday) and has accomplished that six times this season. Junior C Victor Gomez and junior OF Kurt Lipton each collected two multi-hit games in the ECU series and now have 20 and 17 on the season, respectively. V. Gomez (Friday) and Lipton (Saturday) each registered multi-homer games in series. MU now has four players with two homers in a game this season - sophomore OF Eric Semeniuk and sophomore IF Thor Meeks are the others.
Memphis won the last two games of the weekend series at UCF to clinch its four league series of the year. The Tigers four league series wins is the most by a Memphis team since 2007. The U of M's 3-1 week improved it to 22-22 on the year, eclipsing the club's win total from the 2009 season. The 22 wins are also the most for Memphis since winning 36 in the 2007 Regional season. Sophomore SS Chad Zurcher went 9-for-18 (.500) with seven RBI, three runs scored, two doubles and a home run in four games last week. He collected multiple hits in all three games at UCF to increase his hitting streak to 16-straight games. Zurcher has now hit safely in 32 of his last 33 games. He got his week started with two hits and a career-high five RBI to help Memphis past UL-Monroe on Wednesday. Sophomore IF Heath Hatfield went 3-for-5 with a career-high four RBI in Sunday's 10-inning win. Senior RHP Ryan Fraser picked up his third-straight Saturday win with a strong eight-inning outing to lead the U of M to a 10-6 win over the Knights. He scattered seven hits and fanned six, while giving up three runs. Fraser's 82 strikeouts this season are the most by a Memphis pitcher since Derek Hankins recorded 114 K's in 2004.
Rice did not play last week while team took final exams. The Owls will return to action on Tuesday with a game against Texas State that was re-scheduled after being rained out on Feb. 23. Rice remains in sole possession of first place in the Conference USA standings with an 11-4 league record, 2.5 games ahead of Memphis and Marshall. The Owls have won nine of their last 11 games, dating back to April 10. In his last 15 games, senior 1B Jimmy Comerota is batting .491 (27-of-55) with two home runs and four doubles for a .673 slugging percentage. He's also scored 22 times, driven-in 18 runs, stole four bases and maintained a .567 on-base percentage. Sophomore LHP Taylor Wall was 3-0 in four April appearances with a 1.78 ERA. He has held all opponents to a composite .179 batting average and struck out 24 in 30.1 innings. After 15 C-USA games, junior RF Chad Mozingo is batting .492 against the league. He has 32 hits in the 15 games, including six doubles and a triple. Mozingo has scored 17 times, driven-in 17 runs, stole seven bases and maintained a .526 on-base percentage. Sophomore 3B Anthony Rendon has a team-leading 14 home runs on the season and 34 in less than two full seasons in a Rice uniform.
Southern Miss went to New Orleans and swept a three game series from Tulane, never trailing at any point in the three game series. The sweep was the second consecutive weekend sweep for the Golden Eagles as they took three from Houston the previous weekend. Overall, USM has won seven straight, including a midweek victory over South Alabama last Tuesday. Southern Miss is now 8-1 in games that senior RHP Scott Copeland (6-0) has started on the mound this season after posting a 16-2 win on Friday night at Tulane. The Eagles' only loss was to UCF on April 10th in extra innings. Junior RHP Todd McInnis had a strong outing in Saturday's 4-2 win, allowing one run on seven hits over seven innings, striking out six and walking three. His 2.96 ERA this season is the lowest in Conference USA. Junior closer Collin Cargill earned two saves over the weekend, giving him 20 in his career, which ties him with Austin Tubb for third place all-time at Southern Miss. He has saved four of the Golden Eagles' last six victories. Freshman Dillon Day has emerged in center field and since taking over the starting role in the UCF series, he is hitting .478 with 5 2B, a 3B, 16 RBI and 14 runs scored. Junior OF Tyler Koelling batted .500 (6-for-12) last week with a double, a home run and five RBI. He also drew three walks and was hit by a pitch, posting a .5 on-base percentage.
The Green Wave dropped all three games to Southern Miss this past weekend. Sophomore 3B Rob Segedin extended his hitting streak to 18 games with a hit in each contest last week and in the process pushed his batting average to .434 on the season. Segedin drove in an RBI in two games and scored a run in every game and now has scored at least one run in 11 straight contests. He reached base at least twice in each outing and walked in three of four games last week. Freshman C Blake Crohan batted .429 (6-for-14) last week with a double, a home run and seven RBI, including five in Sunday's series finale. Senior LHP Matt Petiton made his second straight quality start last Tuesday vs. Louisiana-Lafayette as he picked up his second victory in a row. The senior retired the side in order three times and faced more than five batters in an inning only once. Petiton allowed just three runners to reach third base and didn't allow an extra-base hit in the contest. He hasn't allowed more than one run in any of his last six appearances.
The Blazers dropped two-of-three games against Houston this past weekend. Because of the forecast for impending bad weather, UAB and Houston moved their Sunday game up to a Saturday doubleheader. It was the fifth doubleheader of the season for the Blazers and the third as the result of weather. The Blazers dropped the games by scores of 16-11 and 7-4. Despite the two losses Saturday, UAB is still 7-3 in the 10 games over those five twin bills this season. The Blazers matched their season-high in conference play with 15 hits in Friday's series opener with Houston. Eight UAB players recorded a hit and senior RHP Mitch Kloskowski worked seven strong innings as the Blazers earned an 11-6 win. He allowed two runs on five hits while striking out five. Senior 1B Luke Stewart homered four times last week to raise his season total to 15, matching his output from last year and tying the sixth-highest single season mark in school history. Stewart's 43 career home runs as a Blazer rank second all-time in program history. In the finale of UAB's weekend series with Houston, he went deep twice for his fourth multiple homer game of the season. He also scored nine times last week, while batting .455 (10-for-22).
The Knights dropped the final two games of the weekend series with Memphis. With three hits Sunday, senior OF Shane Brown pushed his season total to 75, setting a career-high. He also banged out his 55th career double to move into a tie for second on the UCF all-time list. The Knights are still hitting .334 as a team with 63 home runs. A total of nine players are hitting at least .295, with senior OF Chris Duffy holding a .435 mark and Brown at .419. Duffy (17), Brown (8), junior IF Jonathan Griffin (8), Chris Taladay (7), sophomore C Beau Taylor (6) and freshman C Ryan Breen (5) all have hit at least five homers this year. Freshman OF Ronnie Richardson batted .417 (5-for-12) against Memphis with two home runs, seven RBI and four runs scored. Included was a grand slam in Friday night's 11-8 victory. With 14 hits on Sunday, UCF has amassed at least 14 hits in 17 games this season. The Knights are one of only two teams in the country (Alabama A&M) to be consistently starting five freshmen in the batting order (minimum 30 starts).