2011 Championship Blog

Special correspondents and veteran baseball SID Richie Weaver of Tulane and C-USA's own Russell Anderson and Nicole Cartier plan to provide insight and information from Pearl, Miss., in the Fifth Annual C-USA Baseball Championship Blog. We'll have a few special guest appearances by former Southern Miss legend 'Money' Mike Montoro, current Golden Eagle SID Jack Duggan among others, so be sure to check by often for updates.

If you've got a question about the championship tournament, a comment about one of the participating teams, or just want to throw out a random fact, CLICK HERE and we'll get you on the blog as well.

May 28, 2011

A gem of a championship in Pearl
Posted at 11:27 p.m. CT
The 2011 Conference USA Baseball Championship is in the books and what a week it was at Trustmark Park. We saw three extra inning games for the first time ever in a championship, including a 14-inning instant classic on Thursday night/Friday morning. After four exciting days in Pearl, we crowned Rice as the 2011 C-USA Tournament Champions, the Owls fourth such crown in six years. We wish them luck in the NCAA Championship. We want to send out much congratulations to the people in Pearl for their outstanding work in putting this together. While dozens of people contributed to the week's success, we especially want to thank Steve King and Laura Kestenbaum of Spectrum Events and Jim Bishop of the Mississippi Braves and his entire staff for their tireless work leading up to and during championship week.

Personally, I want to thank all of the people that helped up in the press box this week. The Southern Miss staffers that drove up to assist (especially Shirley Jones-Hill and Tim Andrzejewski), the M-Braves people that were in here all week and our other volunteers. I want to single out our official scorer this week, "Money" Mike Montoro, who drove 13 hours to be here and score every game this week. I also want to thank my blog partner Richie Weaver, who was invaluable again this week with all of the writing he has done and the videos he has shot. Shout out to his new bride, Meghan, who let him spend the week up here working and entertaining in the press box.

We hope that you enjoyed the blog. Thanks for following the Conference USA Championship all week long. We are already looking forward to back here for next year's event in Pearl!


C-USA All-Tournament Team
Posted at 10:17 p.m. CT
Here is the official All-Tournament team:

C Craig Manuel, Rice
IF John Frost, UAB
IF Jonathan Griffin, UCF
IF Ryan Still, Houston
IF Corey Thompson, East Carolina
OF Landon Appling, Houston
OF Ryan Lewis, Rice
OF Caleb Ramsey, Houston
DH D.J. Hicks, UCF
P Tyler Duffey, Rice
P Seth Maness, East Carolina
P Todd McInnis, Southern Miss
P Jared Ray, Houston

Tournament MVP:
P Tyler Duffey, Rice


Rice wins C-USA Championship
Posted at 10:07 p.m. CT
Anthony Rendon scores from second on a Craig Manuel single as Rice defeats Houston, 4-3 in 10 innings to win C-USA Championship!

It is the Owls fourth C-USA Championship title in the past six years.


Cingrani enters the game for Rice
Posted at 9:57 p.m. CT
Rice has gone to closer Tony Cingrani here in the top of the 10th. Houston, meanwhile, has something going as catcher John Cannon opened the inning with a single to left and moved up 90 feet on a sacrifice bunt off the at of leadoff hitter Ryan Still. Following a fly-ball out to right by Landon Appling, Rice coach Wayne Graham made the move to set up the scenario we currently find ourselves in.


Let there be free baseball
Posted at 9:49 p.m. CT
We're playing extra innings here in Pearl, Miss., for the third time this week as Houston got out of the ninth with a foul-ball pop-up and a double-play ball off the bat of first baseman J.T. Chargois.

This is just the second time in Conference USA Championship history that the title game has extended past nine innings. The only other time that happened was back on May 21, 2000, when Houston defeated Kevin Youkilis (not to mention Nate Fish) and the Cincinnati Bearcats, 7-4, in 10 innings.


The winning run is aboard
Posted at 9:45 p.m. CT
After Tyler Duffy struck out the side in the top of the ninth, Rice now has the winning run on base as shortstop Derek Hamilton led off the bottom of the inning with a full-count walk. The free pass has now sent Houston starter Jared Ray to the dugout and the Cougars have brought in right-hander Jordan Mannisto.

Making just his fifth appearance of the season, Ray gave Houston everything he had to get him to this point. Through eight-plus innings, Ray allowed three runs (one earned) on eight hits and three walks while striking out four.


It comes down to the ninth
Posted at 9:34 p.m. CT
We're through eight complete now here at Trustmark Park, and we're still deadlocked at 3-3. Both teams stranded a runner on base in the eighth, including one by Rice in scoring position.

The game currently belongs to Houston starter Jared Ray, who has allowed three runs (one earned) on eight hits and two walks while striking out four, and Rice reliever Tyler Duffy. Duffy came in for starter Matthew Reckling, who allowed three runs on five hits and two walks to go along with seven strikeouts in 5.0 solid innings. So far tonight, Duffy has given up just one single and struck out five through three innings.


It's stretch time at Trustmark
Posted at 9:07 p.m. CT
We've reached seventh-inning stretch time here in Pearl and we've got a good one going as Houston and Rice are tied up at 3-all. After scoring a pair of unearned runs in the fifth, the Owls tacked on another run in the bottom of the sixth as centerfielder Michael Fuda hit a one-out double to right central, advanced to third on a ground ball to short, and scored on an RBI-single to right by shortstop Derek Hamilton.

The fans in the stands are singing along to a recorded version of Harry Caray (not sure if this is a good thing or not), and we've got some good baseball left to be played.


Rice gets on the board courtesy of Houston miscues
Posted at 8:45 p.m. CT
For four and two third innings, Houston played nearly flawless baseball. The Cougar offense had generated three runs, starting pitcher Jared Ray had kept Rice pretty much at bay and the defense was making all the plays. In the bottom of the fifth, however, instead of playing by the rules established by Abner Doubleday and the game seemed to governed more by the rules of Edward A. Murphy, Jr. - the man of Murphy's Law fame.

Ray retired the first and third batters of the inning while allowing singles to nine-hole hitter Derek Hamilton and first baseman J.T. Chargois. Ray appeared to wiggle off the hook with a ground ball to short, but Chase Jensen's throw to first pulled M.P. Cokinos off the bag to allow Hamilton to score. One at-bat later, Ray got designated hitter Michael Ratterree to hit a grounder to third, but the ball went through the wickets and into left field and Chargois scored from 90 feet away to make it 3-2.

Houston got out of the inning without any more damage done, and Rice sat the Cougars down in order in the top of the sixth. It's still Houston 3, Rice 2 for the time being. Hold on to your hats folks!!!


Cougars tack on two more in the fourth
Posted at 8:25 p.m. CT
Houston has added to it's lead with a pair of runs in the top of the third as left fielder Joel Ansley sparked a two-out rally with a walk, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. From there, third baseman Codey Morehouse ripped an RBI-triple to the base of the wall in center to plate Ansley, and scored during the play when Rice second baseman Michael Ratterree's relay to throw sailed over the dugout and into the seating area.

Prior to giving up the back-to-back hits, Rice hurler Matthew Reckling had retired nine consecutive Houston batters, including seven via strikeout. His Cougar counterpart, Jared Ray has allowed four hits and one walk with a pair of strikeouts so far.

It's now 3-0 after four complete. But as former Houston baseball SID Jeff Conrad knows all too well, you can never count out Rice in a game against the Cougars.


Ball of Shame goes to Tulane's Greg Campbell
Posted at 8:02 p.m. CT
We just realized that we left all of you blog readers hanging on the winner of this year's Ball of Shame. Some of you may have lost sleep last night. Hold on to your socks, we're about to reveal the winner.

Now, determining a winner this year was more difficult than ever. In the pool play format, each team won at least one game. Therefore, we had to induce the tie-breaker rules, also known as The Weaver Plan. With four teams tied at 1-2, the tie-breaker of fewest runs scored broke the tie and determined the 2011 Ball of Shame recipient. That honor goes to second-year Tulane Baseball SID Greg Campbell. He's a program guy and he now joins inaugural winner Richie Weaver as Green Wave recipients.

Greg had actually departed for New Orleans by the time he had clinched the honor, so Richie will present him with the Ball of Shame on Tuesday. That will be followed by a Mardi Gras parade down Canal Street to celebrate the achievement.

All-Time Ball of Shame Winners:
2011 Greg 'The Guy' Campbell, Tulane
2010 Jason Redd, Memphis
2009 Chris Attwood, Marshall
2008 John Sullivan, Rice (we're still stunned)
2007 Jeff Conrad, Houston
2006 Andy Fledderjohan, Marshall
2005 Jeremy Hoffman, UAB
2004 Richie Weaver, Tulane


Cougars strike first
Posted at 7:10 p.m. CT
Houston's impressive run through the C-USA Championship has continued here early on as second baseman Ryan Still opened the contest with a single, advanced the bases on an error and a sacrifice bunt, and scored on a wild pitch by Rice starter Matthew Reckling.

Rice has now trailed in every game here at Trustmark Park (that little nugget brought to you by Stephen Duarte, of the Houston Chronicle). Still, meanwhile, is having a heck of a week for Houston. With the leadoff single, he is now hitting .583 (7-for-12) with six RBI and a pair of runs scored so far here in Pearl, Miss.


Line 'em up, knock 'em down
Posted at 5:37 p.m. CT
Alright folks, we have lineups. Houston (27-31) will hit first, and Rice (40-19) has the honor of being the 'home' team and thus have the benefit of holding the last at-bat. The winner of tonight's game will earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Rice has advanced to the postseason 16 times, all under head coach Wayne Graham. Houston, meanwhile, has gone to the Regionals 18 times dating back to 1951. The last time the Cougars made it to the NCAAs was back in 2008, when Houston defeated Marshall, 3-2, on May 25, 2008, at Tulane's Greer Field at Turchin Stadium in New Orleans.

With that, here are the lineups for both teams:

1. 2B Ryan Still (.335, 21 RBI, 12 SB)
2. CF Landon Appling (.270, 31 RBI, 22 SB)
3. RF Caleb Ramsey (.326, 46 RBI, 5 SB)
4. DH Matt Creel (.310, 1 HR, 28 RBI)
5. 1B M.P. Cokinos (.271, 3 HR, 37 RBI)
6. SS Chase Jensen (.321, 3 HR, 45 RBI)
7. LF Joel Ansley (.279, 2 HR, 12 RBI)
8. 3B Codey Morehouse (.207, 2 HR, 9 RBI)
9. C John Cannon (.279, 2 HR, 26 RBI)

Pitching today for the Cougars is right hander Jared Ray (4 APP, 4 GS, 1-1, 4.32 ERA, .228 OBA, 16.2 IP, 8 K, 4 BB).

1. LF Keenan Cook (.277, 20 RBI, 6 SB)
2. 1B J.T. Chargois (.309, 3 HR, 31 RBI)
3. DH Anthony Rendon (.330, 6 HR, 35 RBI)
4. 2B Michael Ratterree (.324, 6 HR, 51 RBI)
5. C Craig Manuel (.311, 1 HR, 34 RBI)
6. RF Ryan Lewis (.259, 1 HR, 25 RBI)
7. CF Michael Fuda (.247, 16 RBI, 1 SB)
8. 3B Shane Hoelscher (.277, 3 HR, 35 RBI)
9. SS Derek Hamilton (.245, 28 RBI, 3 SB)

Pitching today for the Owls is righty Matthew Reckling (15 APP, 14 GS, 4-1, 2.90 ERA, .214 OBA, 68.1 IP, 84 K, 44 BB)


Welcome To Championship Saturday
Posted at 4:26 p.m. CT
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, welcome to Championship Saturday here at the 2011 Conference USA Baseball Championship at Trustmark Park!!! For those of you who have been following us on here all week, it's been a long, fun run. Unfortunately, the circus will bring down the big top and we'll all have to return to our normal lives in just over six hours or so. We hope you've enjoyed the commentary along the way. I know I have.

Today's game features top-seeded and regular-season co-champions Rice University squaring off against the Cinderella-story Houston Cougars. We have yet to see either team here at the field today as of yet, so before we get around to getting the starting line-ups to you, let's take a look at how both teams have reached this point.

Rice entered the C-USA Championship on a high note as the Owls went into the final series of the regular-season second place in the league standings but took two out of three from Southern Miss to claim a share of the 2011 title. By virtue of the head-to-head series win over the Golden Eagles, Rice claimed the No. 1 seed in the tournament. The Owls got off to a rough start in the C-USA Championship, falling to No. 8 seed UAB 9-8 back on Wednesday afternoon. Rice bounced back with an 8-5 winover Memphis on Thursday, and took the winner-takes-all match-up against UCF yesterday, 4-2, to advance to today's title game.

Houston, meanwhile, finished 12-12 in the regular-season C-USA race and came into the championship tournament as the No. 6 seed. Houston trailed East Carolina in its opener 5-3 after eight innings of play. The Cougars, however, rallied in the top of the ninth to score five runs en route to an 8-5 win, and followed that up with a thrilling 7-6, 14-inning decision over No. 2 seed and C-USA regular-season co-champion Southern Miss on Thursday. With a spot in today's title game already locked up, Houston rested a few of its starters and wrapped up pool play with a 7-1 loss to Tulane on Friday.

Houston and Rice are very familiar with each other as the two schools are only about 5 miles apart. They play five times each season - with Rice winning all of them this season - and Houston will look to snap a 14-game losing streak to the Owls dating back to the 2009 season. Will the Owls continue their dominance of Conference USA? Can the Cougars complete their improbable run and earn their first NCAA bid since 2008? We'll find out in a few short hours. Until then, don't touch that dial!!!


May 27, 2011

Pod Play Done In Pearl
Posted at 11:23 p.m. CT
Day three of the 2011 Conference USA Baseball Championship is in the books and that means two things. No. 1, pod play is complete, and No. 2, we'll be saying goodbye to the bulk of our SID brethren as they either already heading home or they will depart some time on Saturday.

First, let's take a look at tomorrow's C-USA Championship game. Houston clinched a spot in the contest last night...er, earlier today...with a 14-inning win over Southern Miss while Rice claimed the other spot with a Friday victory over UCF. For just the second time in C-USA history, it'll be an all 713 championship game and Houston will look to exact a bit of belated revenge as the Owls claimed the initial All-Houston, All-The-Time contest with an 11-5 decision in 2006 at Reckling Park.

As for the SIDs who will either be preparing for NCAA Tournament play or closing the books on their respective seasons, it was good to see all of you here at Trustmark Park throughout the week. One of the best things about the C-USA Baseball Championship is getting to hang out with each other, dish out some good-natured barbs as we brag about some memorable wins over each other in year's past, meeting some new faces and reminiscing about oddball antics from C-USA Championships of yore. So, to Malcolm Gray of East Carolina, Mark Taylor of Memphis, Jack Duggan of Southern Miss, Greg Campbell of Tulane, Tyson Mathews of UAB and Brian Ormiston of UCF, it was good to see all of you again and I look forward to seeing you all again next year right here in beautiful Pearl, Miss., if not sooner. To Jamie Zarda of Houston and John Sullivan of Rice, we'll see you guys again tomorrow.

On that note, we're outta here. Russ has just about packed up his belongings and 'Money' Mike has long since passed out on the cushioned chairs in the back of the press box. Talk atcha tomorrow!!!


Seth's the Man
Posted at 9:59 p.m. CT
The third day of games is in the books and we're finished a mere 4:06 earlier than we were last night.

Pirate senior Seth Maness continues his assault on the East Carolina pitching record book with his performance tonight. He fired his second shutout and fourth complete game of the season, allowing just three hits. Maness did not walk a batter and struck out nine, allowing him to tie the school record for K's with 330. The school's all-time wins leader notched his 37th career victory, leaving him one shy of the Conference USA record for wins, held by Jared Berkowitz of Tulane (1997-00).

Philip Clark was the offensive star for the Pirates, going 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI.


Video Explanations
Posted at 9:38 p.m. CT
Greetings friends. We are close to the end of Day 3, or "Day 1 Continued" as it naturally feels like, and we are still facing technical difficulties with our streaming--Internet Connections are slow, too many video conversions, etc. We really do apologize, and we are making note of EVERYTHING so that it will be fixed for the next time. The first go-around is always the guinea pig, right? If it helps, the automatic paper towel dispenser in the bathroom won't even work for me--anything electronic has completed boycotted my presence. I blame the Steve Bartman.... (if you think we should include his description, then by all means)


Memorable Moment On The Field
Posted at 9:05 p.m. CT
The average spectator may not have thought much of it as things were taking place, but in one of the classier moments in Conference USA Baseball Championship history, Tulane head coach Rick Jones briefly halted the action with two out in the bottom of the ninth. As a handful of Tulane players scurried around the field - some coming on or off the field and others simply changing positions - one such player was Green Wave right-hander Robby Broach, who got the last out of the game with a fly ball to centerfield.

On the scoresheet, it'll simply go down that Broach tossed a third of an inning of relief. To Tulane fans and the Broach family, it was a curtain call for the junior from Luling, La. Broach came to Tulane in fall 2007 following a stellar prep career at Archbishop Rummel, and enjoyed a solid freshman season in 2008. He sat out the 2009 season with tightness in his elbow, but Broach appeared to bounce back in 2010 as he started all 14 of his appearance and led the team with seven wins and 76 strikeouts.

Broach started five games earlier this season, but the elbow issues returned. Already a Tulane graduate after receiving his degree in finance from the A.B. Freeman School of Business, Broach had already made the decision not to return for a fifth year. In grattitude for his efforts during his Green Wave career, Jones made the call to the pen to give Broach one more chance to take the hill in a Tulane uniform. After falling behind 2-0 to M.P. Cokinos, Broach battled back and got the Houston first baseman to fly out to left to end the game.

In addition, Jones also gave the smatterring of Tulane fans on hand a reason to stand and cheer as he removed senior centerfielder Nick Boullosa and first baseman Matt Ryan following Broach's warm-up tosses and let the duo get one last ovation. As a guy who spent seven seasons as the contact for Tulane's baseball program, it really was a special moment to be on hand for and one I'm sure the players won't soon forget either.


Greenies finish season on a positive note
Posted at 7:09 p.m. CT
Tulane closed out its 2011 season with a 7-1 victory over Houston. Freshman Bowen Woodson had a single, a double and three RBI to lead the Green wave offense, which posted 10 hits.

Tulane starters Alex Byo was strong in picking up his third win of the year, not allowing an earned run in seven innings. He struck out two and walked one.

Houston will now prepare for its C-USA-record seventh championship game appearance tomorrow night vs. Rice. The Cougars have won three C-USA titles (2008, 2000, 1997).


We're still here
Posted at 5:55 p.m. CT
Don't worry, we didn't fall asleep on you. I know that it's been two hours since our last entry.

Houston and Tulane are battling on a sun-splashed afternoon in Pearl. Tulane has just pushed across a pair of runs and lead 3-1 in the top of the fifth inning.


Championship Matchup Set
Posted at 3:42 p.m. CT
Rice held on to defeat UCF, 4-2 and earn a spot in Saturday night's championship game.

Abe Gonzales allowed one earned run over 5.2 innings, striking out three without a walk. Tony Cingranii pitched 2.2 scoreless innings of relief for this 12thsave.

Offensively, Michael Fuda had two of the Owls seven hits and J.T. Chargois hit a solo home run. Rice will meet cross-town rival Houston in a rematch of the 2006 title game, won by Rice at Reckling Park. The Owls won all five regular season meetings between the clubs.


Jeff Conrad Checks In From Houston
Posted at 2:03 p.m. CT
We're through four innings here in game two today and Rice leads UCF, 4-3. With the Houston/Tulane game coming up, we got an e-mail from former Houston baseball SID Jeff Conrad. I could try and set up what he's about to tell you a little here, but to be honest, I'm getting kind of tired. With that ,ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mr. Conrad:

Good afternoon Conference USA Baseball fans,

Without question, one of the best events that Conference USA holds each season is the baseball tournament. Whether we are playing in Houston, New Orleans, Greenville, Hattiesburg or Pearl, fans, coaches, student-athletes, media and baseball fans always have a good time at this postseason event, and I know that the 2011 version is no different.

With that in mind, it won't be long now before one of the league's greatest traditions is handed out. In just a bit, one of the SIDs at the participating schools will receive the 2011 Ball of Shame.

Each year, teams from around Conference USA gather for the baseball tournament. All the SIDs, whether they are the league champion or the lowest seed, harbor some secret hope and wish for their team to get hot for just a few days, win the tournament and head into the NCAA postseason.

Each season, one SID sees those hopes and dreams crushed and obliterated before their very eyes.

Back in 2004, we at the University of Houston hosted the league's annual postseason event at Cougar Field. One day, someone (who I personally believe was ordained from Heaven) found a ratty, brown, beat-up, weathered-down baseball on the roof of the press box.

After looking at it and playing with it in the press box, someone had the great idea of giving it away as a gag gift to the SID whose team was eliminated first. So all the SIDs and all the Houston athletics support staff that worked that event signed the ball and early on the second day of the 2004 event, we presented it to Tulane SID Richie Weaver.

The tradition has grown and expanded since. During that time, some of the best baseball SIDs in the league have walked away with this memento. Andy Fledderjohan and Chris Attwood with Marshall, Jason Redd with Memphis, Jeremy Hoffman from UAB and in 2008, theunthinkable happened, Yes... it's true... I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself. John Sullivan, longtime Rice baseball SID, saw the Owls 2-and-barbecue and make a much-earlier-than-expected departure from New Orleans.

While there is plenty of disappointment in seeing your season end far earlier than planned, each SID who walks away with the Ball of Shame can look back at all the memories with their respective teams throughout the season and the fun and hijinks in the press box during a couple of days at the Conference USA Tournament.

I know I do. As the former baseball SID at Houston, I was blessed to work with a few championship teams and some wonderful student-athletes and coaches. Smack in the middle of my sparklingwhite autographed ball collection at home is a dirty brown, beat-up ball. Yep, 2007 recipient here. Hey, you take the good, you gotta take the bad. You take them both, and there you have... (Man, that would be a good song if you put it to music).

Anyway, enjoy the rest of the 2011 Conference USA Tournament, And what about my Coogs?! Getting up for work on Friday after than 5-hour, 14-inning monster on Thursday was hell, but it was worth it... Come on guys, just one more win!

Congrats to the 2011 Ball of Shame recipient whoever you may be. You have joined a long list of knuckleheads. We look forward to what you bring to our rich history.

Jeff Conrad
University of Houston
2007 Ball of Shame recipient


Memphis closes season with win over UAB
Posted at 11:44 a.m. CT
Friday's first game is in the books and Memphis has defeated UAB, 5-4 in the season finale for both teams. The Tigers finish at 30-27, the program's best mark since 2007, the school's last NCAA Regional team. UAB closed out at 29-28, the Blazers third straight winning season.

Robby Graham drove home Philip Chapman with the game-winning hit in the eighth inning as the teams chipped away all game long with a single run scored in six different frames.

Conference USA Player of the Year Chad Zurcher was 1-for-4, closing out the year with a .443 batting average. That is the second-highest single-season batting average in C-USA history, trailing only Chris Duffy's .447 mark set last season. We will wait and see if Zurcher becomes the NCAA batting champion once all posteason play is complete.


Musical Interlude
Posted at 11:24 a.m. CT
With the VERY limited amount of sleep that the press box crew is working on, all day long we're going to have to do what we can to keep sharp, or at least awake.

Presently, we're busy playing a nice round of musical trivia. D.J. Richie is spinning the tunes via his iPod and waiting for the first person to correctly guess the tunage.

The songs are running the proverbial music gamut. So far, we've heard from Jerry Reed (C-USA Championship staple East Bound and Down from Smokey and the Bandit), Ramjam (C-USA Championship staple Black Betty), Kenny Rogers, Morris Day, Salt n Pepa, Spinal Tap, Statler Brothers, N.W.A. (rest in peace, Radio Raheem), Rick Springfield, Ray Charles, Prince, Pink Floyd, Peter Frampton, Parlament, O.P.P., Marshall Tucker, Luther Vandross, Living Color, Johnny Cash and former Southern Miss student Jimmy Buffett.

Oh by the way, Memphis leads UAB, 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth.


Morning game Update
Posted at 10:43 a.m. CT
Mid-South rivals Memphis and UAB are locked up in a good one. Both teams put up a run in the first inning, UAB added a single run in the top of the fourth before Memphis put up a three spot in the bottom half of that frame. UAB has added another run in the top of the sixth and its 4-3 Tigers.

By the way, this is a great uniform game. UAB is wearing its sharp gold jerseys, while Memphis counters with its sweet baby blues.

We hope that somewhere Slade Blackwell and Collins Day are following along.


Geek Squad Update
Posted at 9:48 a.m. CT
Welcome back to the C-USA Digital Network where time doesn't exist. It's about 30 o'clock here in the production studios and things are off to a great start! After an epic battle in last night's Game 8, we are back at it. We've got both teams' streams up and running. In previous championships, there has only been one video stream provided with the home team's radio only. We'll we've gotten a little proactive here and are now streaming two video streams with each team's radio broadcasting on their respective all-access players. We know your comfortable with your radio talent and we want to make sure you're comfortable with your video talent as well. (that would be us) So, grab your Snuggie and let's all get comfortable today for the third day of the Baseball Championships. What time is it again?


We're back
Posted at 8:21 a.m. CT
Good morning from Trustmark Park. We're feeling a little like humpty dumpty right now, trying to put ourselves back together after an amazing two days of baseball yesterday that zapped our energy completely. Years from now, we'll still be talking about the crazy and memorable baseball that we experienced. Right now, we're just pounding caffeine and trying to keep each other awake.

We have four games set today, beginning with UAB and Memphis at 9 a.m. We will continue to have updates throughout the day. We can't guarantee the level of creativity that you'll see, but we'll give it the old college try.


Day 2 is in the books...Finally!!!
Posted at 2:02 a.m. CT
What a day of baseball at Trustmark Park.

Ryan Still's safety squeeze scored John Cannon with the game-winning run in the bottom of the 14th inning to give Houston a 7-6 win over Southern Miss.

With the win, the Cougars clinched the championship of pod 2 and have punched their ticket to the championship game on Saturday night. This will be UH's third appearance in the C-USA Championship game in the last six years. The Cougars last won the title back in 2008.

The 14-inning game took 4:43 and made it the longest game in the 16-year history of the C-USA Championship.

After a 25-minute rain delay to begin the day, we played four games, had the first-ever day with two extra-inning games, including the longest ever. Sixteen hours and 24 minutes after that, the day(s) is complete.


Easily the longest game in C-USA Championship history by innings, Houston and Southern Miss are heading to the 14th inning tied at 6-6.

Wait, unless you are either an absolute die-hard or are suffering from insomnia, you are not reading this. And, if you are, stop! Go to bed in my place.

-RDA- I see the Energizer Bunny
Posted at 1:33 a.m. CT
Maybe the C-USA Championship should have been sponsored by Duracell. Because it keeps going and going and going.

Easily the longest game in C-USA Championship history by innings, Houston and Southern Miss are heading to the 14th inning tied at 6-6.

Wait, unless you are either an absolute die-hard or are suffering from insomnia, you are not reading this. And, if you are, stop! Go to bed in my place.


Hats off to the fans
Posted at 12:47 a.m. CT
We're almost an hour into a new day - or roughly 15 hours and 20 minutes after we kicked things off this morning (this morning meaning Thursday, not Friday which has already become) and it's still a 6-6 ballgame between Southern Miss and Houston after 10 innings.

While the hotly contested ballgame is not really a surprise as each of the previous three games today were close, what is a bit eyebrow-raising is the crowd still on hand well after the stroke of midnight. Of the announced 2,472 fans for the fourth session of the 2011 Conference USA Baseball Championship, a good chunk of them are still in the stands hanging on every pitch.

In an even bigger surprise, our illustrious official scorer - 'Money' Mike Montoro - has shown off a vast array of dance moves here in the press box as the house control continues to crank out quality tunes. The folks here at Trustmark Park are pretty big into 80s hair bands and Money has done everything short of breaking out the ol' lawnmower, much to the enjoyment of the media and game-day staff hanging out.


Posted at 12:03 a.m. CT
We've begun day three of the Conference USA Championship. The only problem is that we're still playing games on the second day of the schedule.

Southern Miss holds a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the eighth over Houston.

By the way, if you're still reading our blog, it's wayyyyy past your bedtime.


May 26, 2011

Fit to be tied
Posted at 10:52 p.m. CT
We have a great nightcap at Trustmark Park. A pitchers duel between UH's Mo Wiley and USM's Boomer Scarborough has given way to some run-scoring in the middle innings.

Houston scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 3-0 lead. But, Southern Miss has fought back to tie it in the sixth with a three-run inning to knot the score at 3-3.

We'd love to be more creative on this update, but our creativity went to bed a little while ago.


From the editing room
Posted at 10:12 p.m. CT
Things are running very smoothly today, which is partly due to getting all the kinks solved and fixed from yesterday and mostly due to the fact we are broadcasting on CSS TV--they get to do the whole production today instead of us. Even with rain delay this morning, we were an hour ahead of yesterday's schedule, but of course there are extra innings in the ECU/Tulane game to put us back behind schedule... which means less sleep again for the Geek Squad and more probable highlights of Russ Anderson's Inner Craig Sager (don't think I let him off the hook either).

The only kinks still warranting an Unsolved Mysteries visit from Robert Stack is my computer, which handles much of the highlights you like to enjoy on the C-USA Digital Network. Let me just preface that it is brand new and this was its inaugural C-USA trip. At about 10 a.m. yesterday is started making this noise. Naturally I freaked and turned it off for fear it would explode in my face. Ouch!!

Finally after the day couldn't handle not having an editing computer on hand and much to its dismay, I put my computer to work. It started out with a loud objection, but it has resentfully continued to work since then. We finally got it down to an annoying be-kind-rewind-your-tape noise, and now it has gradually decreased down to a slight grasshopper. I'm hoping it will start to with this musical chirp with Sebastian from the Little Mermaid.


Houston-Southern Miss preview (think David Letterman)
Posted at 9:05 p.m. CT
Live...from suburban Jackson, it's Late Night with Conference USA. And now, here's your matchup, Houston vs. Southern Miss

1. 2B Ryan Still
2. RF Caleb Ramsey
3. 1B M.P. Cokinos
4. DH Matt Creel
5. SS Chase Jensen
6. LF Joel Ansley
7. C John Cannon
8. 3B Codey Morehouse
9. CF Landon Appling

Pitching today for the Coogs is Mo Wiley (14 APP, 4-4, 4.38 ERA, 63.2 IP, 27 K, 20 BB)

Southern Miss
1. LF Kameron Brunty
2. SS Ashley Graeter
3. DH B.A. Vollmuth
4. RF Marc Bourgeois
5. 2B Isaac Rodriguez
6. 1B Adam Doleac
7. 3B Mark Ellis
8. C Chase Fowler
9. CF Justin Diliberto

Pitching today for the Golden Eagles is All-name team member Boomer Scarborough (12 APP, 1-1, 2.79 ERA, 42.0 IP, 30 K, 19 BB)


Buccos arrrrgh victorious
Posted at 8:39 p.m. CT
Tulane made it interesting again in the 11th inning, getting runners on second and third with two outs, trailiing, 4-2. But, ECU pitcher Kevin Brandt got Brennan Middleton to fly out to center to end the game.

East Carolina wins, 4-2 and keeps its championship game hopes alive.

Next up, Southern Miss plays Houston. If the Cougars win they will earn a spot in the championship game. If the Golden Eagles win, the winner of tomorrow's USM-ECU matchup would win pool No. 2 and make the championship game.


Posted at 8:22 p.m. CT
Some relief pitchers come into Metallica's Enter Sandman. Others have entered to AC/DC's Hells Bells or Guns n Roses Welcome to the Jungle. Tulane's D.J. Ponder just entered to the Spongebob Squarepants song. That oughtta put some fear in the Pirates batters, huh?

By the way, ECU has taken a 4-2 lead in the top of the 11th.


Free Baseball
Posted at 7:51 p.m. CT
We have free baseball at Trustmark Park. Trailing 2-1, Cody Robinson had a lead-off triple, his first of the season, in the bottom of the ninth inning. Matt Ryan drove him with a single to center to tie the game at 2-2.

We're headed to extra innings for the first time since 2008. Interesting to note that East Carolina has been a part of each of the last four extra-inning games in C-USA Championship history, dating back to 2006.


Do you remember me, part 2
Posted at 7:06 p.m. CT
Conference USA is in its 16th season. During that time there have been many, many all-conference, all-freshman and all-tournament performers. But, do you remember all of them?

In part two of this blog entry I will give you the positions and schools that go with the names of 10 former award performers.

Here are your players:

Goefrey Tomlinson, OF, Houston

Aaron Feldman, OF, Tulane

Brent Dlugach, SS, Memphis

Matt Evers, P, Rice

Austin Faught, P, Houston

Ty Wallace, C, Tulane

Andre Parks, P, UAB

Tyson Auer, CF, UCF

Ryan Tousley, OF, East Carolina

Chris Hesse, OF, Southern Miss


Halfway Home
Posted at 6:41 p.m. CT
We're through five innings here in the third game day two at the 2011 Conference USA Baseball Championship and it's shaping up to be another great contest as Tulane and East Carolina are deadlocked at 1-1. More importantly for all the folks who help make the tournament what it is, we've officially reached the half-way point of the championship.

Everyone involved in running Trustmark Park has done a great job. The field is impeccable, the stadium is spotless and the atmosphere has been tremendous with some key tunes pumping through the public address system.

On the field, Tulane's David Napoli and East Carolina's Mike Wright have been duking it out as both have allowed one run on four hits. We've got one more game still to play tonight with Southern Miss taking on Houston and almost every game the rest of the way still has championship-game implications. Who will make it to Saturday's title game? Only the shadow knows. Will the Green Wave make a run in Pool 2? Can the Pirates rally and get some luck to advance? Will it be Houston or Southern Miss who takes control of the Pool with a victory tonight? Keep checking in to find out. Or if you're within driving distance, pack up the family truckster and head on over to beautiful Pearl, Miss. We'll see ya here!!!


Do you remember me, part 1
Posted at 5:56 p.m. CT
Conference USA is in its 16th season. During that time there have been many, many all-conference, all-freshman and all-tournament performers. But, do you remember all of them?

In part one of this blog entry will give you the names of 10 former all-conference performers. We'll give you about an hour to think them over and give you the answers later.

Here are your players:

Goefrey Tomlinson

Aaron Feldman

Brent Dlugach

Matt Evers

Austin Faught

Ty Wallace

Andre Parks

Tyson Auer

Ryan Tousley

Chris Hesse


East Carolina-Tulane preview
Posted at 4:58 p.m. CT
East Carolina and Tulane are getting set to meet for the fourth time in eight days. Know that the Pirates posted their first-ever sweep over the Green Wave at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.

Here Arrgggh the starting lineups for the Pirates and the Green Wave.

East Carolina
1. RF Philip Clark
2. 3B Corey Thompson
3. CF Trent Whitehead
4. C Zach Wright
5. 1B John Wooten
6. LF Ben Fultz
7. DH Chase McDonald
8. SS Jack Reinheimer
9. 2B Mike Ussery

Pitching today for the Buccos is Mike Wright (14 APP, 6-3, 2.95 ERA, 85.1 IP, 66 K, 24 BB)

1. CF Nick Boullosa
2. DH Brandon Boudreaux
3. C Jeremy Schaffer
4. 1B Nick Schneeberger
5. RF Cody Robinson
6. LF Blake Crohan
7. 3B Quinn Pippin
8. SS Garrett Cannizaro
9. 2B Brennan Middleton

Pitching today for the Greenies is David Napoli (17 APP, 1-3, 3.96 ERA, 50.0 IP, 53 K, 29 BB)


Rice tames the Tigers
Posted at 4:34 p.m. CT
Rice fell behind Memphis 5-0 after the first inning, but there were still eight innings to go.

The Owls pushed across one run in the fourth, three in the sixth and a pair each in the seventh and ninth innings to down the Tigers, 8-5.

Rice starter Taylor wall shaky, but the Owls relievers were spot on. Tyler Duffey and Tony Cingrani combined for six shutout innings, allowing six hits without walking a batter and fanning three. Duffey earned his eighth win of the season, while Cingrani, the pride of the southwest Chicago suburbs, gained his 11th save.

The winner of Friday's Rice-UCF game at 12:30 p.m. CDT will earn a spot in Saturday's championship game.


Video killed the radio star
Posted at 3:45 p.m. CT
Greetings from the corner of the press box. This is your Geek Squad who endures hours of malfunctioning hardware, software and underwear to bring you the best possible production for your online viewing pleasure--the Live-Streaming of games. For the Baseball Championship, we streamed Wednesday's 4 games and will stream tomorrow's 4 games online. We're hoping that Friday's game won't last 3+ hours long as they did Wednesday thus requiring another 20hr day, otherwise highlights might include Richie Weaver's best Erin Andrews moments. Click here and click here to see what I'm talking about.

The Southern Miss video crew has been remarkable as they've set up a 5-camera angle production to get the most viewpoints so that we can broadcast from every angle. They really have done an outstanding job of building an entire production studio from an empty press box room. Shout out to Southern Miss Techies! Ok, i'm going to grab another caffeinated beverage and vibrate back to my editing station.... stay tuned.


You're my boys blue!
Posted at 2:44 p.m. CT
It's a Conference USA civil war at Trustmark Park as the Blue and the Gray of the Memphis Tigers takes on the Blue and Gray of the Rice Owls.

Memphis struck first in a big way in the first inning, scoring five runs in the bottom of the opening frame, highlighted by a two-run blast by Robby Graham.

Rice starter Taylor Wall faced just 14 batters before exiting after the third inning. He struck out three of them, but surrendered five runs on six hits before giving way to Tyler Duffey.

The Owls had a little something to hoot about with a run scored in the fourth inning, but still trail, 5-1 in the fifth.


Rice-Memphis preview
Posted at 1:24 p.m. CT
The second game of the day is about to get underway and the starting lineups feature a historical change. 2010 National Player of the Year Anthony Rendon will make his first-ever appearance at second base in a Rice uniform. It is his first appearance in the field since opening weekend of Conference USA play vs. UCF. Here are the starting lineups for both teams.

Here are the starting lineups:

1. LF Keenan Cook
2. 1B J.T. Chargois
3. 2B Anthony Rendon
4. DH Michael Ratterree
5. C Craig Manuel
6. CF Michael Fuda
7. RF Ryan Lewis
8. 3B Shane Hoelscher
9. SS Derek Hamilton

Pitching today for the Owls is Taylor Wall (13 APP, 1-0, 2.53 ERA, 32.0 IP, 13 K, 9 BB)

1. CF Drew Martinez
2. 2B Chad Zurcher
3. 3B Jacob Wilson
4. 1B T.J. Rich
5. C Phillip Chapman
6. RF Robby Graham
7. DH J.D. Wallace
8. SS Ethan Gross
9. LF Ford Wilson

Pitching today for the Tigers is Dan Langfield (14 APP, 3-3, 4.31 ERA, 79.1 IP, 89 K, 46 BB)


Game-Winning Griffin
Posted at 12:51 p.m. CT
The league's leading home run hitter struck out again in a big way here at Trustmark Park.

UCF's Jonathan Griffin stepped to the plate with two out and two on in the top of the eighth inning and launched a home run to left centerfield, his second of the tournament. His league-leading 18th round-tripper would prove to be the game-winner as the Knights took a 6-4 lead on the blast.

UAB did send to the tying run to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. with Jamal Austin on second base, Patrick Palmeiro stepped to the plate to face Knights closer Joe Rogers. But Rogers struck out Palmeiro looking to end the game.

Now UCF fans can all become Memphis Tigers fans. With the pool play setup, a Memphis victory over Rice in this next game would automatically put the Knights into Saturday night's championship game.


Mr. Mathews Joins The Blogosphere
Posted at 11:45 a.m. CT
It's been four games and seven innings, and we've finally got our first guest blogger of the 2011 Conference USA Baseball Championship. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you UAB SID Tyson Mathews who will provide some interesting insight to ramifications of this morning's contest. Take it away Tyson:

"UAB is back in the tournament field this year after barely missing out on last year's six-team field because of tiebreakers. It is the first tournament for the Blazers under the two-year-old pool play format. The new format makes for some interesting day two scenarios. For instance, a UAB win over UCF combined with a Rice victory over Memphis would lock the Blazers into Saturday's championship game with still one day of pool play remaining. At the same time, a UAB loss would eliminate it from championship game contention because of how the tiebreakers would fall. The Blazers opened play with a 9-8 win over top-ranked Rice yesterday. Despite struggling down the stretch in conference play, UAB has managed three wins in four tries against Rice in the past month."UAB and UCF are currently tied at 2-2 in the sixth and, like UAB, a Knights' win would put them in the driver's seat in Pool 1.

And just to update you on the action, UAB is on top 4-3 after seven innings. Six more outs and the Blazers may be able to punch their ticket to the C-USA Championship title game for the first time in school history.


Game 5 Update
Posted at 10:46 a.m. CT
We're through three complete now in the opening game of the second day of the 2011 Conference USA Baseball Championship and it's a good one as UCF is currently leading UAB, 2-1. Starting pitchers Danny Winkler and Dillon Napoleon have been solid on the bump, but both offenses pushed across runs in the third.

The Knights drew first blood in the top of the inning as second baseman Travis Shreve opened the frame by reaching via error and shortstop Darnell Sweeney followed with a single to right. A sacrifice bunt off the bat of centerfielder Ronnie Richardson moved the runners into scoring position, and both players scored during the ensuing at-bat. Shreve came around as two-hole hitter Beau Taylor lifted a sacrifice fly, and Sweeney was able to touch the paystation all the way from second after tagging on the play and sprinting an extra 90 feet on an errant throw from the outfield.

Undaunted, the Blazers got one of the runs back in the home half of the stanza as shortstop Nick Crawford ripped a one-out single up the middle, centerfielder Jamal Austin followed with an infield hit, and third baseman Partick Palmeiro came through witn an RBI-single to left to make it 2-1.

As Jerry Reed would say, 'We've got a long way to and a short time to get there.' We're looking forward to see how this one shakes out.


2011 Tod Meisner Conference USA Tournament All-Name Team
Posted at 10:17 a.m. CT
Ladies and Gentlemen....it is time to present to the world the 2011 Conference USA All-Name Team as chosen by myself and Richie. Thirteen uniquely named individuals made the fifth annual squad that is named in honor of the former C-USA media relations staffer that brought this squad to the blog back in 2007.

*M.P. Cokinos, Houston
*Dakota Dill, Houston
Thor Meeks, Marshall
Heath Hatfield, Memphis
*Boogie Anagnostou, Rice
J.T. Chargois, Rice
Boomer Scarborough, Southern Miss
Quinn Pippin, Tulane
Nick Schneeberger, Tulane
*Gunner Wright, Tulane
Coy Arrowood, UAB
Dillon Napoleon, UAB
Tom Sawyer, UAB

*repeat selection


Look, Daddy...a baseball game!
Posted at 9:12 p.m. CT
While day two of the 2011 C-USA Baseball Championship has been delayed a bit due to a slight sprinkle, we are all ready to go once the field is finished being prepped. UCF (37-20) and UAB (29-26) will kick things off and the winner could clinch a spot in the title game, depending on the outcome of the Memphis/Rice ballgame at 12:30 this afternoon. We'll give you more details on the championship-game scenarios as things begin to play out. But without any more Howling Mad Murdock-like jibber jabber, here are the starting lineups for both teams.

Here are the starting lineups:

1. CF Ronnie Richardson (.319, 31 RBI, 15 SB)
2. C Beau Taylor (.330, 5 HR, 45 RBI)
3. DH D.J. Hicks (.337, 13 HR, 60 RBI)
4. 1B Jonathan Griffin (.336, 17 HR, 50 RBI)
5. 3B Derek Luciano (.274, 6 HR, 32 RBI)
6. RF Erik Hempe (.324, 7 HR, 28 RBI)
7. LF Ryan Breen (.270, 1 HR, 25 RBI)
8. 2B Travis Shreve (.317, 19 RBI, 21 SB)
9. SS Darnell Sweeney (.276, 43 RBI, 12 SB)

Pitching today for the Knights is Danny Winkler (16 APP, 3-4, 4.90 ERA, 71.2 IP, 79 K, 19 BB)

1. SS Nick Crawford (.310, 20 RBI, 17 SB)
2. CF Jamal Austin (.355, 28 RBI, 26 SB)
3. 3B Patrick Palmeiro (.283, 8 HR, 41 RBI)
4. 1B John Frost (.238, 3 HR, 38 RBI)
5. RF Ryan Ussery (.301, 3 HR, 16 RBI)
6. C Harry Clark (.254, 12 RBI, 2 SB)
7. LF Coy Arrowood (.303, 9 RBI, 5 SB)
8. DH Michael Busby (.179, 2 2B, 7 RBI)
9. 2B Keith DePew (.272, 1 HR, 24 RBI)

Pitching today for the Blazers is Dillon Napoleon (12 APP, 5-2, 2.69 ERA, 77.0 IP, 51 K, 26 BB)


Rain, rain go away
Posted at 9:01 a.m. CT
Well, we're already behind schedule on day two. A small cell of rain has moved into the Jackson/Pearl area.

It is small in nature and should move through quickly.

We are looking at a 9:25 first pitch.


Brewing up some baseball
Posted at 7:19 a.m. CT
The Dunkin' Donuts down the street from Trustmark Park is giving away a free donut to fans that come in wearing the colors of their favorite C-USA team. I know this because I was there earlier morning, ordering the largest cup of coffee they make to get re-fueled after a very short night following a long four-game day on Wednesday. America does run on Dunkin as their slogan says, and we're ready to run out another four games at the C-USA Baseball Championship.

UAB and UCF will get things going today at 9 am CT, followed by Memphis vs. Rice at 12:30. The second session features Tulane and East Carolina at 4 p.m., followed by Houston vs. Southern Miss at 7:30 p.m.

A reminder that all of today's games are being televised by CSS.


2-4-6-8! Who do we appreciate?
Posted at 12:42 a.m. CT
It's well after midnight here at Trustmark Park and we're finally wrapping up day one of the 2011 Conference USA Baseball Championship. As we look back on the goings on out there on the field, it was a day where the odd man was out - litterally - as No. 2 seeed Southern Miss, No. 4 seed UCF, No. 6 seed Houston and No. 8 seed UAB posted victories over their odd-number seeded counterparts.

No. 1 seed Rice dropped a 9-8 decision to the Blazers, No. 3 seed East Carolina saw the Cougars claw back with a five-run ninth to earn a 8-5 decision, No. 5 seed Memphis fell to the Knights 16-9, and No. 7 seed Tulane fell prey to the Golden Eagles 6-1.

Offense dominated the day early on as games one and two featured a combined 42 runs while the afternoon was more pitcher oriented as the four hurlers combined to allow just 19 earned runs and a post a 2.71 ERA while striking out 30 and walking just 14.

With all that said, we're outta here. Do what you feel and keep both feet on the wheel. You don't have to head home, but you can't stay here. So as Jake and Elwood Blues once sang at Bob's Country Bunker (go ahead and join in if you like):
Move 'em on, head 'em up
Head 'em up, move 'em on
Move 'em on, head 'em up
Count 'em out, ride 'em in,
Ride 'em in, count 'em out,
Count 'em out, ride 'em in


May 25, 2011

McInnis "completes" an outstanding performance
Posted at 11:29 p.m. CT
Southern Miss senior pitcher Todd McInnis has accomplished so much in his five-year Golden Eagle career, including being just the second player in C-USA history to earn two C-USA Pitcher of the Year awards in his career. But tonight he accomplished something he never had before. The tall, lean righty threw his first career complete game to lead the Golden Eagles to a 6-1 win over Tulane.

McInnis allowed only four hits on the night, striking out eight and walking two.


Wave On Wave
Posted at 10:54 p.m. CT
The Green Wave got on the scoreboad in the seventh as centerfielder Nick Boullosa plated right fielder Cody Robinson with an RBI-fielders' choice grounder to second base. Southern Miss still holds a solid 5-1 advantage through six and a half innings, but Tulane reliever Drew Zizinia has been solid out of the pen to keep his team in the game.

Since entering the game with one out in the first, Zizinia has hung zeros while scattering six hits and a pair of walks while fanning five in 5.2 innings of relief. While Zizinia has been solid, his offense will have to get going as two-time Conference USA Pitcher of the Year Todd McInnis is hanging tough through six.


McInnis Pitches Into History
Posted at 10:24 p.m. CT
Southern Miss starter Todd McInnis made Golden Eagle history in the top of the fifth as the senior from Brandon, Miss., has established a school record for innings pitched. With a three-up, three-down frame, McInnis now has 382.1 innings under his belt, surpassing the former mark of 381.2 established by Darrel Lindsey from 1985-88.

The record is the third McInnis has set during the 2011 season as he entered the 2011 C-USA Baseball Championship already holding Southern Miss career marks with 32 wins and 66 starts. His start tonight against the Green Wave moves his total to 67 and he is well on his way to picking up win No. 33 as the Golden Eagles have staked him to a 5-0 advantage.

McInnis also holds the No. 2 spot in the USM career record book with 354 strikeouts, which is 20 shy of Lindsey's mark of 374. It would take a monstrous couple of outings, but with at least one more potential start in the NCAA postseason, McInnis has a shot to surpass that mark as well.


Favre takes to the mound
Posted at 9:41 p.m. CT
Before the Southern Miss-Tulane game, three-time NFL MVP and future Hall of Famer Brett Favre threw out the first pitch. The former Golden Eagle standout has been attending USM baseball games in Hattiesburg all season long, even sitting in the dugout a couple of times.

He was greeted by a loud ovation from the fans on attendance, many clad in black and gold, who watched him fire a fastball to the plate.

I had the opportunity to spend some time talking with Brett before the game on a number of subjects and completely enjoyed our discussion. He is so friendly and down to earth. Our discussion will go down as a great personal moment for me to remember.

More than anything though, we appreciate Brett being at Trustmark Park and supporting the Conference USA Baseball Championship. We wish him nothing but the best in his retirement and hope to continue to see him at Southern Miss events, and maybe even some more Conference USA events in the future.


Green Wave & Golden Eagles Prepare For Day 1 Finale
Posted at 9:03 p.m. CT
Three games down and one more to go to wrap up day one of the 2011 Conference USA Baseball Championship here at Trustmark Park. This time it's the seventh-seeded Tulane Green Wave and the No. 2 seed Southern Miss squaring off on the diamond. Located about 45 minutes from Hattiesburg, the crowd here in Pearl is decidedly pro Southern Miss and the home crowd was treated to a surprise visit as Golden Eagle alumn and three-time NFL MVP Brett Favre was on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. The two teams met back on March 25-27 at Pete Taylor Park and the homestanding Southern Miss team took two of three games from the Green Wave.

Here are the starting lineups:

1. CF Nick Boullosa (.272, 1 HR, 17 RBI)
2. DH Brandon Boudreaux (.232, 1 HR, 12 RBI)
3. C Jeremy Schaffer (.352, 6 HR, 37 RBI)
4. 1B Nick Schneeberger (.304, 2 HR, 35 RBI)
5. LF Blake Crohan (.238, 2 HR, 30 RBI)
6. 2B Bowen Woodson (.270, 3 HR, 25 RBI)
7. SS Garrett Cannizaro (.236, 3 3B, 29 RBI)
8. RF Cody Robinson (.212, 2 HR, 4 RBI)
9. 3B Brennan Middleton (.256, 1 HR, 13 RBI)

Pitching today for the Wave is Conrad Flynn (14 APP, 3-6, 3.83 ERA, 89.1 IP, 66 K, 19 BB)

Southern Miss
1. LF Kameron Brunty (.296, 5 HR, 34 RBI)
2. SS Ashley Graeter (.343, 2 HR, 22 RBI)
3. DH B.A. Vollmuth (.312, 12 HR, 47 RBI)
4. RF Marc Bourgeois (.352, 7 HR, 35 RBI)
5. 2B Isaac Rodriguez (.303, 2 HR, 31 RBI)
6. 1B Adam Doleac (.339, 2 HR, 38 RBI)
7. 3B Mark Ellis (.253, 3 HR, 32 RBI)
8. C Jared Bales (.291, 2 HR, 19 RBI)
9. CF Justin Diliberto (.274, 7 RBI, 2 SB)

Pitching today for the Golden Eagles is Todd McInnis (13 APP, 7-2, 2.79 ERA, 80.2 IP, 73 K, 28 BB)


Houston makes the Pirates walk the plank
Posted at 8:56 p.m. CT
Houston scored five runs in the top of the ninth inning to defeat East Carolina, 9-5. More later


The Pirates AARGH On The Board
Posted at 7:25 p.m. CT
Houston drew first blood here in game three with a trio of runs back in the fourth, but East Carolina came back in a big way as third baseman Corey Thompson sparked a five-run fifth with a three-run homer to left center. Cougars starter Matt Creel was cruising along and tossed four scoreless frames until the fifth.

Nine-hole hitter Mike Ussery got things going with a leadoff single and Ryan Still followed with a walk to set up Thompson's bomb. After the game-tying swat, Creel was lifted in favor of Jordan Mannisto but things did not get much better for the Cougars as Trent Whitehead singled up the middle and Zach Wright ripped a base hit to left in the ensuing at-bat to send Whitehead to third. Ben Fultz then came through with an RBI-single up the middle to plate Whitehead, and Wright scored later in the frame on a Mannisto wild pitch.

We're through five complete now and Mr. Maurice Mentum (that's Mo-Mentum for those of you who are like me and it may take you a few minutes to catch on there) has shifted from one dugout to the other...for the time being. This has the makings of a classic finish to come.


Friends In Low Places
Posted at 6:33 p.m. CT
Alright, we're three innings into game No. 3 today and it's been a good one as it remains a scoreless contest between Houston and East Carolina. While we've got a break in the action, we wanted to open the flood gates a bit to some fans checking in from afar. Former Houston SID Chris Burkhalter chimed in The Lone Star State and had two questions: 1) Is there still a Ball of Shame? and 2) Where the heck is Jeff Conrad?

Let's take it one at a time, Chris. First off, yes there is still a Ball of Shame. As the receipient of the very first B.O.S., I am very proud to say that the tradition you guys started back in 2004 is alive and well. While the rules for its awarding have changed a bit since the league went to pool play rather than the old double-elimination format, it will handed out some time on Friday. For those of you who have never heard of the Ball of Shame, it is sort of a dubious honor in that folks in the press box will sign a beat-up baseball and hand it to the SID whose team is the first to be eliminated from C-USA Championship play. In the old days of the double-elimination tournament, if your team went two-and-que, at least you got to go home with an illustrious parting gift. Now days, it's a little more difficult as you can now actually win a game in the tournament and still take home the ball. Don't worry guys, you'll be hearing plenty more on the subject as the week goes on.

As for Jeff, he's here in spirit but couldn't make the trip to Pearl. Just so you know, Chris, Jeff checked in during the Rice/UAB game with a few gems. While I can't quote him directly because this is a family-friendly forum, Jeff checked in to dog our official scorer - who happens to be former Southern Miss SID and current West Virginia football guru 'Money' Mike Montoro. In addition, he took the opportunity to continue to defend his decision on who to nominate in the great Eddie Degerman/Brad Lincoln Pitcher of the Year debate from 2006. Lincoln wound up winning the award that year, but let's just say there are some around here that feel that there may have been some alterior motives in how things went down. We'll leave it at that.


Third game's a Charm
Posted at 5:22 p.m. CT
The third game of the day is about to get underway as Houston meets East Carolina.

The Pirates took two-of-three from the Cougars in the regular season.

Here are the starting lineups:

1. 2B Ryan Still (.322, 18 RBI, 12 SB)
2. RF Caleb Ramsey (.312, 17 2B, 44 RBI)
3. 1B M.P. Cokinos (.284, 13 2B, 3 HR, 35 RBI)
4. DH Ty Stuckey (.333, 2 2B, 3 RBI)
5. SS Chase Jensen (.317, 10 2B, 44 RBI)
6. LF Joel Ansley (.288, 8 2B, 11 RBI)
7. C John Cannon (.287, 8 2B, 26 RBI)
8. 3B Codey Morehouse (.198, 5 2B, 7 RBI)
9. CF Landon Appling (.258, 2 3B, 28 RBI)

Pitching today for the Cougars is Matt Creel (18 APP, 5-5, 4.85 ERA, 55.2 IP, 36 K, 22 BB)

East Carolina
1. LF Philip Clark (.319, 25 RBI, 13 SB)
2. 3B Corey Thompson (.320, 10 2B, 38 RBI)
3. CF Trent Whitehead (.333, 20 2B, 29 RBI)
4. C Zach Wright (.292, 15 2B, 13 HR, 39 RBI)
5. LF Ben Fultz (.301, 4 3B, 25 RBI)
6. DH Chase McDonald (.301, 9 2B, 25 RBI)
7. 1B John Wooten (.280, 14 2B, 27 RBI)
8. SS Jack Reinheimer (.333, 4 2B, 21 RBI)
9. 2B Mike Ussery (.286, 3 2B, 16 RBI)

Pitching today for the Pirates is Shawn Armstrong (17 APP, 3-1, 3.89 ERA, 39.1 IP, 46 K, 18 BB)


Blaze of Glory
Posted at 4:16 p.m. CT
For the second time in four years, No. 8 seed UAB has defeated No. 1 seed Rice on the opening day of the Conference USA Championship.

The Owls made it interesting in the bottom of the ninth. With two out in the inning, Michael Fuda and Ryan Lewis singled. But for the second straight inning, UAB pitcher Ben Bullard dodged a bullet, as Shane Hoelscher lined out to shortstop.

The win was UAB's third straight over the Owls, as the Blazers swept a doubleheader from Rice on April 23.


Bullard gives Rice the old 23 skidoo
Posted at 4:16 p.m. CT
Rice put on a big rally in the bottom of the eighth inning, scoring five runs in the bottom of the eight inning to cut UAB's lead to 9-8.

With two out and two on, 2010 National Player of the Year Anthony Rendon stepped to the plate. But Blazer relief pitcher Ben Bullard came on got Rendon to pop out in four territory by first base to end the threat.


Hanging Tough
Posted at 3:17 p.m. CT
Rice is still trailing in the ballgame - 9-3 in the bottom of the sixth - but the Owls have stopped the bleeding for the time being. After falling behind by as many as eight after five and a half innings, Rice got a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. Ryan Lewis hit a leadoff triple and scored on single by Derek Hamilton. Hamilton advanced the bases on a pair of wild pitches, and came around to touch the paystation on an infield single off the bat of Keenan Cook.

Holt McNair releived starter Austin Kubitza to start the sixth and and faced the miminum over the next inning and a third while striking out a pair. JOhn Simms has since taken the bump for the Owls and put a pair of men on base via hit batsman and a single, but pitched his way out of the jam to keep it a six-run affair.

After six and a half innings, it'll be up to the Rice offense to get things going if they are to come back in this ballgame. That may be easier said than done, however, as UAB starter Ryan Woolley has allowed just three runs on six hits and a pair of walks while fanning four so far.


Wardrobe Malfunction
Posted at 2:32 p.m. CT
It's certainly not the most famous wardrobe malfunction related to the city of Houston (that happened to Janet Jackson in January, 2004), but Rice second baseman Michael Ratterree did have one today.

If you're watching the game via online streaming on Conference USA, you'll notice that Rat is wearing No. 19. Will Maxwell normally wears No. 19 for the Owls. Today, he has lent it to Rat because the first team All-C-USA selection accidentally brought his road grays to Trustmark Park for the home-standing Owls.


De' Ja vu All Over Again?
Posted at 2:11 p.m. CT
In 2008 at the Entergy Conference USA Baseball Championship presented by Murphy's Law, the eighth-seeded UAB Blazers defeated top-seeded Rice, 8-2. It was just the second time that a No. 8 seed had defeated the No. 1 seed in C-USA Championship history. Could we be looking at a third time?

Ryan Ussery hit a three-run homer in the first inning and the Blazers pushed across three more runs in the second inning and own a 7-1 lead going to the bottom of the second inning.

Conference USA Freshman of the Year Austin Kubitza has allowed four earned runs and eight hits. He has not been helped by two Owl errors.


Game 2 Preview
Posted at 12:56 p.m. CT
With game one of the 2011 Conference USA Baseball Championship presented by Trustmark in the books courtesy of a 16-9 win by UCF over Memphis, it's time to look ahead to game two of the tournament's opening day here in Pearl. The game features regular-season co-champions and top-seeded Rice (38-18) vs. No. 8 seed UAB (28-26). In the regular season, UAB won the opening game of the seried on April 22, 9-5, but the Owls took the next two games 7-2 and 8-7 in 12 innings in a double-header on April 23. And without further ado, here are the line-ups for both teams:

1. SS Nick Crawford (.315, 20 RBI, 17 SB)
2. CF Jamal Austin (.350, 28 RBI, 25 SB)
3. 3B Patrick Palmeiro (.281, 8 HR, 39 RBI)
4. 1B John Frost (.228, 3 HR, 35 RBI)
5. RF Ryan Ussery (.297, 2 HR, 12 RBI)
6. C Harry Clark (.254, 4 2B, 12 RBI)
7. LF Coy Arrowood (.318, 9 RBI, 5 SB)
8. DH Andrew Manning (.210, 3 HR, 9 RBI)
9. 2B Keith DePew (.258, 1 HR, 24 RBI)

Pitching today for the Blazers is C-USA Newcomer of the Year Ryan Woolley. A right-hander, Woolley is 6-6 with a 2.98 ERA. He's struck out 70 and walked 27 while holding opponents to hit .228 batting average in 99.2 innings of work. Today's game will be his 17th appearance of the year and his 16th start.

1. LF Keenan Cook (.278, 19 RBI, 6 SB)
2. 1B J.T. Chargois (.309, 1 HR, 28 RBI)
3. DH Anthony Rendon (.323, 5 HR, 33 RBI)
4. 2B Michael Ratteree (.322, 6 HR, 49 RBI)
5. C Craig Manuel (.299, 1 HR, 30 RBI)
6. CF Michael Fuda (.241, 4 2B, 15 RBI)
7. RF Ryan Lewis (.238, 1 HR, 23 RBI0
8. 3B Shane Hoelscher (.292, 3 HR, 34 RBI)
9. SS Derek Hamilton (.244, 25 RBI, 3 SB)

Toeing the rubber for the Owls this morning is righty Austin Kubitza. Kubitza will be making his 14th start in as many appearances this season and enters the game 6-3 with a miniscule 1.85 ERA. He has fanned 90 and walked 21 while allowing opponents to connect at a .240 clip in 87.2 innings on the hill.


UCF walks past Memphis
Posted at 12:46 p.m. CT
The opening game of the 2011 Conference USA Championship presented by Trustmark provided plenty of scoring as UCF defeated Memphis, 16-9. It will go in the books as the highest scoring opening game in the 16-year history of the championship.

The game featured 33 hits, with Memphis registering 17 and the Knights having 16. Three different UCF players had three hits and three and had three RBI. Jonathan Griffin had three of each, while Ronnie Richardson and Derek Luciano had three hits and Erik Hempe and Ryan Breen drove in three.

UCF will face UAB at 9 am CT on Thursday, while Memphis will battle Rice at 12:30 tomorrow.

The next game features UAB and Rice, with first pitch around 1:20 p.m.

The Knights previous high for runs scored in a C-USA Championship game was six.

Though they're not out of it, the Tigers have been hurt by leaving 12 men on base.


Sweet Sixteen
Posted at 12:12 p.m. CT
UCF has extended its lead to 16-9 in the eighth inning. Jonathan Griffin hit a three-run bomb to center field to extend the Knights to seven runs. It was Griffin's league-leading 17th round-tripper of the year.

The Knights previous high for runs scored in a C-USA Championship game was six.

Though they're not out of it, the Tigers have been hurt by leaving 12 men on base.


Dirty Dozen
Posted at 11:40 a.m. CT
While Memphis rallied to tie the score at 9-all after four and a half innings, UCF has reclaimed the lead with three runs over the next two innings to claim a 12-9 advantage. Knights' second baseman Travis Shreve opened the bottom of the fifth with a double down that squirted past Memphis third baseman Jacob Wilson, advanced to third on a wild pitch and touched the paystation on an RBI single off the bat of Ronnie Richardson to make it 10-9.

The Tigers stranded a runner on the basepaths in the top of the sixth, and in the bottom of the frame, Jonathan Griffin hit a one-out double to left central before Erik Hempe hammered a two-run bomb to straight-away left field to account for the current score.

The game now belongs to UCF reliever Johnny Sedlock, who came on with one out in the bottom of the fifth. Memphis, meanwhile, has Dane Sharpe on the hill.


Dressed to the Nines
Posted at 11:16 a.m. CT
The offensive show continues at Trustmark Park. Memphis scored six runs in the top of the fifth inning to tie the game at 9-9. Phillip Chapman gave us the first home run of the tournament with a two-run blast to left field way behind the home team bullpen.

The 18 combined runs make this the highest-scoring opening game in the 16-year history of the Conference USA Championship.


Posted at 10:35 a.m. CT
We have the first pitching change of the championship, which ahs inspired me to make my first blog entry. Actually, I've been busy running around, so I left Richie in charge of the blog for a while.

UCF scored twice in the first, four times in the third and has three more here in the fourth, chasing Memphis starter Tyler Farley.

The first seven batters in the Knights lineup have a hit, with Derek Luciano posting a pair.


One Down
Posted at 9:34 a.m. CT
It took 30 minutes and a combined 61 pitches, but at long last the first inning is finally over. In a frame that saw a total of nine runners reach base, Memphis squandered a chance to hang a crooked number in the top of the frame as an erratic Brian Adkins walked a pair and gave up a single in a 35-pitch effort.

Adkins was able to wiggle off the hook with a pair of inning-ending strikeouts, but Tyler Farley was not as fortunate for the Tigers as Beau Taylor and Derek Luciano stroked RBI singles to stake the Knights to a 2-0 advantage.


And We're Off
Posted at 9:04 a.m. CT
With a windout and release from the powerful left arm of UCF hurler Brian Adkins at 9:02 a.m., the 2011 Conference USA Baseball Championship is officially underway. Adkins fell behind 2-0 to Memphis leadoff hittter Drew Martinez, but after a nine-pitch at-bat, Adkins won the battle with a ground ball to first.


Let's Get It Started
Posted at 8:13 a.m. CT
We're still a little over 45 minutes away from first pitch, but the line-ups are in and we figured you might want to know who'll be taking the field. The first game today will be the No. 4 UCF (36-20) taking on fifth-seeded Memphis (29-25). Both teams had outstanding seasons as UCF is poised to make its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2004 and Memphis is enjoying its first winning season since 2007.

1. CF Drew Martinez (.321, 21 RBI, 20 SB)
2. 2B Chad Zurcher (.455, 33 RBI, 12 SB)
3. 3B Jacob Wilson (.279, 6 HR, 49 RBI)
4. 1B T.J. Rich (.298, 6 HR, 52 RBI)
5. C Phillip Chapman (.310, 4 HR, 38 RBI)
6. DH Eli Hynes (.239, 7 HR, 30 RBI)
7. RF Robby Graham (.323, 3 HR, 30 RBI)
8. SS Etham Gross (.276, 2 3B, 10 RBI)
9. LF Ford Wilson (.219, 1 HR, 2 RBI

Pitching today for the Tigers is right-hander Tyler Farley. Farley is 2-2 with a 5.26 ERA. He's struck out 39 and walked 12 while allowing opponents to hit .301 in 39.1 innings of work. Today's game will be his first start of the year after making his previous 19 appearances out of the bullpen.

1. CF Ronnie Richardson (.310, 30 RBI, 15 SB)
2. C Beau Taylor (.332, 5 HR, 44 RBI)
3. DH D.J. Hicks (.338, 13 HR, 59 RBI)
4. 1B Jonathan Griffin (.329, 16 HR, 47 RBI)
5. 3B Derek Luciano (.263, 6 HR, 30 RBI)
6. RF Erik Hempe (.317, 6 HR, 25 RBI)
7. LF Ryan Breen (.273, 1 HR, 22 RBI)
8. 2B Travis Shreve (.313, 14 2B, 18 RBI)
9. SS Darnell Sweeney (.282, 1 HR, 43 RBI)

Toeing the rubber for the Knights this morning is southpaw Brian Adkins. Adkins will be making his 15th appearance and 13th start of the season and enters the game 6-4 with a 3.92 ERA. He has fanned 40 and walked 19 while allowing opponents to connect at a .270 clip in 78.0 innings on the hill.


The Boys Are Back In Town
Posted at 7:30 a.m. CT
Boys and girls, children of all ages, it's that time of year again. The sun is up, the field is perfectly manicured and we've got players strolling around the dugout. That's right, it's time for the 2011 Conference USA Baseball Championship sponsored by Trustmark. We're still about 90 minutes away from first pitch, but we wanted to get the ole blog rolling as soon as we can. In a tradition started by C-USA stalwart Russ Anderson and then-league fledgling Tod Meisner, the C-USA Baseball blog has sort of taken on a life all of it's own since then.

While 'The Toad' has moved on to become 'Twitter Tod', we'll be here all week bringing you all the action from this year's event. The C-USA Championship will be held in Pearl, Miss., for the next three seasons, and upon first glance of the park, this is one of the nicer venues to host the event. The playing surface is flawless, the seating area provides great sightlines and the weather is amazing. While we know how much you enjoy reading about things here on the blog, Jackson probably isn't too far from wherever you may be right now. So go on, jump in the car/truck/minivan and head on out to Jackson and catch all the action live with us.

The C-USA Baseball Championship has provided many memorable moments over the last 15 years - from the home-run laden event of 1996, to East Carolina's emotional run to the title in 2002, to the Murphy's Law tournament back in 2008. What's going to happen this year? I can't wait to find out.


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