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Conference USA weekend roundup


Brennon Martin

Brennon Martin

Half of the league’s teams were in action in the city of Houston this weekend, with the results impacting the conference race. Rice moved one step closer to a fourth consecutive regular season C-USA title by taking two of three games from UCF. Second place East Carolina entered the weekend with a one game lead over third place Houston as the teams met at Cougar Field and the Pirates extended that lead with a two games to one series victory over the Cougars.

UCF pulled off a big surprise to open the series on Friday night, as Caleb Graham turned in the best pitching performance of his career on Friday night, tossing 6.1 shutout innings as the Knights blanked the Owls, 5-0. It was the first time since Jan. 30, 2000 that UCF blanked a ranked opponent. Rice rebounded on Saturday with a 10-2 victory, as Ryan Berry worked seven strong innings and Anthony Rendon went 3-for-4 with a home run. The Knights gave the second-ranked Owls all they could handle on Sunday before Rice scratched out a run on a single by Chad Mozingo in the bottom of the eighth to win, 8-7.

Houston opened the series by winning a back and forth contest that saw the Cougars score the decisive run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh to earn a 5-4 win. East Carolina came back strong on Saturday, with three different Pirates launching towering home runs during a six-run sixth inning as ECU posted a 12-2 victory. East Carolina secured the series victory with more offense on Sunday, scoring two or more runs in four different innings to post a 13-6 victory. Ryan Wood led the attach with four hits, including two home runs.

Tulane took two-of-three from UAB to move into fourth place in the league standings. UAB matched a season high with five home runs, including two by Andrew Manning in Friday night’s 8-7 win. On Saturday, Tulane rallied from an 8-4 deficit by scoring five runs in the seventh and eighth innings, capped by a Scott Powell single that sent Josh Prince home with the game-winning run. Sunday’s contest turned into a pitcher’s duel, as Conrad Flynn outperformed Kyle Roberson in the Green Wave’s 3-1 victory that gave them 30 wins on the season.

Memphis earned its first Conference USA series victory of the season by taking two games from Southern Miss in Millington, Tenn. In the first Friday night start of his career, junior lefthander Brach Davis struck out five in 6.1 innings and senior Matt Yokley worked a scoreless ninth to record his 18th career save as Memphis edged Southern Miss, 5-4, in the series opener. The next day, freshman Jacob Wilson was a triple short of a cycle and Brennon Martin allowed just two hits over seven innings in the Tigers 16-6 victory. Southern Miss closed out the series with a 4-1 win, as Todd McInnis was dominant on the mound, striking out 11 without walking a batter in eight innings.

Marshall stepped out of league play for a two-game series at Radford. The Thundering Herd rallied to earn an 8-7 victory on Saturday, as Adam Yeager hit a two-run, game-winning home run in the top of the ninth inning. On Sunday, Brandon Cassamassima hit a two-run homer and Austin Coan tied the school record with his eighth save of the season in a 5-3 win that gave Marshall its first series sweep since mid-March.

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