May 7 Baseball Notebook

Go C-USA! T.J. Hose
T.J. Hose

May 7, 2007

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As Conference USA enters the final two weeks of the regular season, there is still a lot to be decided. While Rice has a stranglehold on first place, the race for second contains many contenders, as does the quest for NCAA Tournament at-large selections. And, elsewhere in the standings, the jockeying for tournament seeding continues.




Sophomore, OF, Beaumont, Texas

Ewing batted .600 (6-for-10) to help lead the Golden Eagles to a 3-0 series sweep over Marshall this past weekend.  He had three doubles, one home run and seven RBI in the series, while also drawing three walks and scoring three runs.  In Friday night's opener, Ewing had a sacrifice fly and a three-run homer to account for four RBI.  He finished with a .643 on-base percentage and collected 12 bases for a 1.200 slugging percentage for the week.




Junior, RHP, Hagerstown, Md.

Hose improved to 6-4 on the season after picking up the win in Friday night's 3-1 victory at Houston on CSTV.  He went 7.2 innings, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out five.  After giving up a hit in the first inning, Hose retired 16 of the next 18 batters, including 14 in a row at one point, and did not allow a runner past second base.  The 7.2 innings worked tied a season-high and his four hits allowed was the second-fewest he has given up this season.






East Carolina swept a three-game series at Houston this past weekend to move into third place in the league standings, one-half game behind second place Memphis.  The Pirate pitching staff allowed just four earned runs all weekend.  ECU's three starters (junior RHP T.J. Hose, junior LHP Dustin Sasser and sophomore RHP Josh Dowdy) gave up four runs (three earned) on 13 hits with 11 strikeouts and nine walks.  Despite working just five innings, Dowdy continued to give the Pirates a solid outing as he retired the first nine Cougar batters he faced. In all, Dowdy retired 14-of-19 batters surrendering two walks and two hits.  ECU's bullpen allowed just two runs (one earned) in 7.2 innings against Houston.  Junior LHPJosh Rulhman improved to 4-0 on the year after working two innings and getting the win Saturday, 6-3.  Senior LHP Jason Neitz did not allow a run in 3.2 innings and gave up just one hit with a pair of strikeouts.  Junior RHP Shane Mathews notched his league-leading 11th save Friday night in a 3-1 win over Houston.  Junior OF Jamie Ray batted .455 (5-for-11) at UH with a home run, five RBI, two doubles and three runs.  Ray's grand slam in the top of the ninth against Houston on Saturday night gave the Pirates a 6-3 victory and set the tone for a series sweep.  He followed up Saturday's performance by going 3-for-4 with double, an RBI and three runs scored in Sunday's 9-2 win.



Houston dropped all three games against East Carolina this past weekend at Cougar Field, marking the first time that it has been swept at home in a conference series since dropping three to former Southwest Conference rival Texas on April 6-7, 1996.  Senior 3B Dustin Kingsbury hit safely in, scored at least one run in, and drove in at least one run in three of the four games last week.  He knocked in almost half of the Cougars' 11 runs scored during the entire week, driving in five.  Junior 2B Ryan Lormand had five hits in the ECU series, including his 12th double of the season, and also stole two bases, raising his team-high season total to 20.   Sophomore RHP Wes Musick, who did not get a decision after a solid eight-inning effort on Saturday night, leads the league in ERA during conference games at 1.29.  In five starts (35 innings pitched), he is 3-0 with 35 strikeouts and 14 walks.  Houston's non-conference game against Louisiana-Lafayette on May 9 at Cougar Field was cancelled late last week to accommodate the Cajuns' final examinations schedule.  The game will not be rescheduled.



The Thundering Herd dropped all three games at Southern Miss, snapping Marshall's two series winning streak in Conference USA play.  Junior LF Jeff Rowley had his 16-game hitting streak snapped in Sunday's series finale at USM.  After consecutive 2-for-4 performances to start the series, the Herd's longest hit streak of 2007 came to an end when Rowley went 0-for-2 at the plate with a walk.  Rowley and freshman 3B Blake Sanders hit .400 or better at Southern Miss. Sanders hit a team-best .429 in the series, extending his hitting streak to nine games, while Rowley batted .400 for the series.  In league games only, freshman IF Josh Valle is batting a team-best .367 with two doubles, a home run and eight RBI.  Senior RHP Nick Wolle was the lone Herd pitcher to appear in the Southern Miss series that did not surrender an earned run. Wolle, who set the Marshall single-season save mark (7) with his April 27th save vs. Houston, struck out two batters in his 1 1/3 innings of work at USM.  



The Tigers won two-of-three against UCF and sit alone in second place in the conference standings with an 11-7 league ledger.  Junior RHP Will Hudgens made his first collegiate start on Sunday, going five innings and striking out four to earn his fourth win of the season.  Sophomore Matt Yokley came in to earn his eighth save of the season (seventh in conference play), tying the Memphis single-season record.  In 20 appearances, Yokley is 2-4 with a 2.10 ERA and 47 strikeouts with only 12 walks in 34.1 innings pitched.  Senior IF Michael Murray swung a hot bat in the UCF series, going 7-for-11 (.636) with a double, a home run, three RBI and four runs scored.  He leads C-USA in batting in conference games at .453, just ahead of Tiger senior 1B Adam Amar at .448.  Amar batted .459 against league competition last season.  Amar, who became the school's all-time hits leader on April 25, needs just two more RBI to own that record, currently held by Chris Marable, who had 170 from 1986-89.  Senior DH Joey Lieberman hit his team-leading 12th home run of the year in Saturday's 7-3 win.  In less than two full seasons in a Tiger uniform, Lieberman has hit 25 round-trippers, which ties him for seventh place on the school's career list.



The Owls were idle last week while the team participated in final exams.  Rice will return to action this week carrying a season-high 10-game winning streak.  The Owls pitching staff has surrendered a total of only 11 runs in the last seven games.  That unit has produced a team ERA of 2.77 on the season, led by junior LHP Joe Savery's 2.01 mark.  Savery is now 6-1 on the year and has struck out 40 batters in 62.2 innings.  Senior RHP Ryne Tacker is tied for the conference lead in victories with eight, posting an 8-1 record with three saves, a 2.12 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 59.1 innings pitched.  Junior closer Cole St.Clair, a preseason All-American that did not pitch until April, is rounding back into shape.  In seven appearances, he has a 2.70 ERA and three saves, striking out 12 and walking two in 10 innings pitched.  St.Clair has 16 saves in his career and needs only one more to tie current Chicago White Sox pitcher David Aardsma's Rice record of 17 career saves.  Savery enters this week with a 10-game hitting streak.  Savery leads the team in batting average (.340) and he moved into sole possession of fifth place on the Owls' list for career-doubles with 52.  Junior SS Brian Friday, who has a league-high 19 doubles in 2007, is not far behind on the career list, having moved into a tie for ninth place with 45 to-baggers.



Southern Miss swept three games from Marshall this past weekend to move above .500 (11-10) in conference play for the first time since defeating Rice in its league opener on March 23.  The Golden Eagles outscored the Thundering Herd 35-9 in the series, which included an 18-3 victory on Saturday where USM set season-highs for runs scored and hits (18).  The three wins raised the team's record to 30-19 on the year, marking the 21st time in the last 22 seasons that the Golden Eagles have won 30 or more games in a season.  The Marshall series marked the first time this season that all three Southern Miss pitchers earned victories, as senior RHP Ryan Belanger, junior RHP Barry Bowden and junior RHP David Clark each picked up their sixth win of the season.  In seven starts in conference play, Bowden is 5-1 with a 2.40 ERA after earning the win over Marshall on Friday.  He has 37 strikeouts and 15 walks in 45 innings pitched vs. C-USA competition.  Junior 1B Trey Sutton hit .462 (6-for-13) in the series with a double, a triple, a home run, an RBI and three walks, while extending his hitting streak to 13 games.  He has a league-high 25 runs scored in conference games.  Of his 29 hits against C-USA opponents, 12 have gone for extra bases (six doubles, two triples and four home runs).  Junior OF Drew Carson had his best week of the season, hitting .538 (7-for-13) with a double and two RBI. 



The Green Wave dropped two-of-three to UAB over the weekend, winning the series finale to snap an eight-game losing streak in league play, its longest since the inception of Conference USA.  The 12 league losses tie for the most by Tulane in C-USA play and this will be the first time the Wave will not post a winning record in conference action.  Sunday's game two win moved Tulane to 30-20 on the season, marking the 14th consecutive season under head coach Rick Jones that the Wave has won at least 30 games.  Senior 1B Tim Guidry hit .600 (6-for-10) in the series with two RBI, a stolen base and two runs scored.  Sophomore OF Aja Barto had three hits in Saturday's game, including a three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth that tied the game and sent it to extra innings.  Junior RHP Sean Morgan struck out eight batters in two appearances in the series and now has 104 strikeouts on the season.  With 207 career K's, he has moved into seventh place on Tulane's all-time strikeouts list.



The Blazers won two-of-three games at Tulane over the weekend, its first series win over the Green Wave since 2004.  The wins also marked the first for UAB over Tulane in New Orleans since the inception of Conference USA in 1996, snapping an 0-15 skid in regular season play.  The Blazers won both games in dramatic fashion.  On Saturday, freshman SS Jonathan Merritt hit a three-run game-winning home run in the top of the 11th inning to give UAB an 11-8 win.  It was Merritt's first career home run.  In game one Sunday, the Blazers rallied with four runs in the top of the ninth to post a 4-2 victory.  Junior C Ben Shelley provided the winning margin with a two-run single after Merritt had added an RBI single.  Junior OF Phil Bell had two hits, two runs scored and two stolen bases in Saturday's win, while senior C Danny Sawyer had four hits.  Sunday's 2-1 loss in game two marked the 14th time this season that UAB has had a game decided by one run, a league high.



The Knights won the series opener at Memphis on Friday night, before dropping the final two games of the series.  UCF holds a half-game lead over Marshall for the final spot in the C-USA Tournament in Greenville, N.C.  Sophomore 1B Kiko Vasquez had another big weekend at the plate, hitting a pair of home runs on Friday night and driving in three runs in Sunday's finale.  He has now hit safely in 11 consecutive games and has moved up to third in the conference in RBI with 45.  Vasquez and freshman 3B Chris Duffy hit back-to-back homers on Friday night, marking the first time the Knights have done that since May 6, 2005 against Troy.  Senior DH Matt Horwath and junior OF Ryan Richardson have each hit safely in their last eight games.  Horwath had a streak of seven straight games with multiple hits, as well as a streak of seven games in a row with at least one RBI, snapped on Sunday.  Over his last seven appearances, sophomore RHP Justin Weiss has not allowed a run and has yielded just two hits.  Senior LHP Brian Brooks made his 81st-career appearance Sunday, giving him sole possession of second on UCF's all-time list (Jason Arnold had 98 from 1998-2001).  The Knights have posted double-digit hits in seven of their last eight games. 



Three members of Conference USA are ranked in the Top 31 and six are listed in the top 61 of the most recent Pseudo-RPI's (May 7), as published by Boyd Nation (  As a league, C-USA is ranked fifth, trailing only the SEC, Big 12, ACC and Pac-10 Conferences.  Here's a look at where each C-USA school ranked in the current ratings:


1.             Rice

20.            East Carolina

31.            Southern Miss

53.            Memphis

60.            Houston

61.            UCF

75.            Tulane

150.          UAB

189.          Marshall



Here's a look at which teams own the tie-breakers in head-to-head Conference USA series in 2007:




ECU - over MEM, MAR, HOU

HOU - over UCF, UAB, TLN


TLN - over MAR, ECU, USM

UAB - over UCF, TLN

UCF - over TLN

MAR - over MEM, HOU



Here's a look at who each team faces down the stretch in Conference USA series':



MEM - HOUSTON, at Rice



USM - at Houston

TLN - at Rice

UAB - at Marshall, EAST CAROLINA

UCF - at East Carolina, MARSHALL




Other than the players of the week, here's a look at some of the top performances in Conference USA during the games of May 1-6:



ECU - RYAN TOUSLEY - batted .750 (8-for-12) in three wins at Houston, recording at least two hits in each outing.  Had an RBI and a run scored in Friday's 3-1 win and doubled and scored on Saturday.  Went 4-for-5 with an RBI on Sunday.

HOU - DUSTIN KINGSBURY - had a pair of multi-hit games and five hits total in UH's four games.  Drove in five runs, including two in a win over McNeese State and two on Sunday vs. ECU.  Doubled and scored three runs.

MAR - BLAKE SANDERS - extended his hitting streak to nine games after hitting .429 (3-for-7) in the Southern Miss series.  He hit a double and scored twice, producing a .600 on-base percentage.

MEM - JOSH IRVIN - led the team with a .571 average (8-for-14) and a .929 slugging percentage.  Had a pair of doubles, a home run and four RBI, while posting three multiple hit games.  Walked once and scored four times.

USM - JODY BLOUNT - hit .700 (7-for-10) in the Marshall series with eight runs scored, a double, a home run, three RBI and four walks.

UAB - JONATHAN MERRITT - had the game-winning home run on Saturday at Tulane, a three-run shot in the top of the 11th inning.  On Sunday, he drove in a run and scored the game-winner in a 4-2 win.  Had four runs scored and five RBI in the series.



HOU - WES MUSICK - allowed only one run off five hits in a career-best-tying eight innings of work on Saturday, but did not get the win.  Retired 11 of 13 batters early in the game and put down seven of the final eight that he faced.

MEM - SCOTT McGREGOR - earned his fifth win of the season on Saturday vs. UCF.  He allowed two runs and scattered nine hits over seven innings, striking out a season-high six batters and walking two.

USM - RYAN BELANGER - recorded his sixth win of the season against Marshall on Friday, throwing seven strong innings.  He allowed one run on three hits (all singles), while fanning four and walking just one.

TLN - SEAN MORGAN- struck out six batters in three innings of Friday's suspended game vs. UAB.  Came back on Sunday to earn his first save of the season, not allowing a hit over 2.2 innings, fanning two.







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