Conference USA weekend roundup

Going into this weekend the marquee matchup in Conference USA was Houston at Southern Miss as both teams positioned themselves for seeding at the C-USA Tournament and NCAA berths. However, the home-standing Golden Eagles won all three matchups, including a pair of one-run games to move ahead of the Cougars in the league standings. Tulane won two games at Memphis, with the third game being rained out. UCF surprised Rice on Friday night and played them tough the next two days, but the Owls took back-to-back one-run victories. In an expected high-scoring series, Marshall won twice at UAB and East Carolina swept Presbyterian in non-conference action.

Bo Davis provided the big bat for Southern Miss against Houston, hitting a two-run home run on Friday and a three-run homer that proved to be the difference in Saturday’s 4-3 win. Jonathan Johnston picked up his second win of the week in relief against the Cougars and Tyler Conn added to his NCAA-leading save total with his 15th of the season.

Making his first start in two weeks, Kyle Sweat worked 7.1 innings and allowed just two runs on five hits as UCF posted its second win over a top-five opponent this season with a 4-2 win over No. 4 Rice. The Owls came back to earn back-to-back one-run wins and keep its hold on first place in the C-USA standings. Cole St.Clair earned the win on Saturday (his seventh) and notched a save on Sunday as Rice prepares for a nine day lay-off due to final exams.

Tulane broke out its bats with 17 runs on Friday and 15 runs on Saturday, taking the first two games of its series at Memphis before Sunday’s game was cancelled due to rain. It was the first rain out in Conference USA league play this season. For the weekend, the Green Wave hit .368 (32-for-87) with a .586 slugging percentage courtesy of 10 doubles and three home runs. Junior centerfielder Anthony Scelfo led Tulane with a .667 batting average (8-for-12) with two doubles, a home run and six RBI.

James Oliver threw his first career complete game for UAB on Friday night as Nick Crawford went 4-for-4 and helped turn three double plays in the Blazers 15-3 win. On Saturday, Marshall’s Victor Gomez and Tommy Johnson each hit grand slams, and Nate Lape hit his team-leading 12th home run to lead the Thundering Herd to a 10-9 win. Marshall earned a series victory on Sunday and raise its record above .500 with a 10-6 victory.

East Carolina finished off a 5-0 week by taking three straight from Presbyterian, outscoring the Blue Hose, 20-3. Justin Bristow closed out the sweep on Saturday with a complete-game shutout, facing three batters over the minimum.