#4 UCF 16 – # 5 Memphis 9
A trio of Knights’ batters tallied three-hit performances and southpaw Johnny Sedlock tossed 4.2 innings of solid relief as fourth-seeded UCF defeated No. 5 seed Memphis in a slugfest, 16-9, in the opening game of the 2011 Conference USA Baseball Championship presented by Trustmark Wednesday morning at Trustmark Park.
UCF seemed to have control of the game at 9-3 after four innings of play, but the Tiger roared back with a six spot in the top of the fifth to tie things up. From there, however, Knights’ centerfielder Ronnie Richardson drove in a run with an RBI single to center in the home half of the inning and UCF added four more runs in the ensuing frame to account for the final score.
With the win, UCF improved to 37-20 and will take on eighth-seeded UAB on Thursday at 9 a.m. Memphis, which will battle top-seeded Rice tomorrow afternoon at 12:30, fell to 29-26 on the year and will have an uphill battle if the Tigers are to advance to Saturday’s C-USA Championship title game. Wednesday’s game was the highest scoring opening contest in C-USA Baseball Championship history, surpassing the former mark of 16 combined runs on May 23, 2007, when Memphis defeated Houston 12-4 at East Carolina’s Clark-LeClair Stadium.
#8 UAB 9 – #1 Rice
Perhaps the UAB baseball team enjoys seeing the No. 8 in front of its names when heading into postseason play. Four years after becoming just the second team in league history to post an opening-day tournament win over the top-seeded squad, the Blazers did it again on Wednesday afternoon as UAB upended regular-season champion and top-seeded Rice, 9-8, in day one of the 2011 Conference USA Baseball Championship sponsored by Trustmark at Trustmark Park.
UAB jumped out to a 4-0 advantage before Rice ever touched a bat in the ballgame and led by as many as eight at 9-1 after three and a half innings. The Owls stormed back with two runs in the fifth and a five-spot in the eighth, but the Blazers bullpen made some big pitches when they needed them to come away with the victory. Wednesday’s game marked just the third time in the 16-year history of the C-USA Championship that a No. 8 seed beat a No. 1 on opening day, and ironically enough it was the Blazers that did it the previous time as UAB knocked off the very same Owls squad in New Orleans, 8-2, back on May 21, 2008.
With the win, UAB improves to 29-26 on the year and will take on fourth-seeded UCF on Thursday at 9 a.m. Rice, meanwhile, fell to 38-19 and will look to bounce back tomorrow when the Owls square off against No. 5 seed Memphis tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. Blazers second baseman Keith DePew led a 17-hit UAB attack with a 4-for-5 performance at the plate while centerfielder Jamal Austin and first baseman John Frost had three hits apiece. UAB’s hit total was the third-most allowed by the Owls all season and they hurt themselves even more defensively with four errors – two each by second baseman Michael Ratterree and shortstop Derek Hamilton.
#6 Houston 8 – #3 ECU 5
University of Houston head baseball coach Todd Whitting has a saying for his team whenever it may seem the deck is stacked against the Cougars “So What?”
Down by a pair of runs with one out in the top of the ninth, Whitting’s squad gave a collective shrug of the shoulders, recited the mantra and proceeded to pound out seven hits and plate five runs to rally for an 8-5 victory over third-seeded East Carolina in day one of the 2011 Conference USA Baseball Championship sponsored by Trustmark at Trustmark Park.
With the win, No. 3 seed Houston improved to 26-30 on the year and will take on second-seeded and regular-season co-champion Southern Miss on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. East Carolina, meanwhile, fell to 37-19 and will look to rebound tomorrow against when the Pirates square off against No. 7 seed Tulane at 4 p.m.
Second baseman Ryan Still and shortstop Chase Jensen led a 14-hit Cougar attack with three hits each while right fielder Caleb Ramsey, left fielder Joel Ansley and third baseman Codey Morehouse had two hits apiece. Jordan Mannisto picked up the win after giving up a pair of runs on four hits and a walk while striking out four in 5.0 innings out of the bullpen.
#2 Southern Miss 6 #7 Tulane 1
To say that Southern Miss pitcher Todd McInnis has accomplished a lot during his collegiate career would be a drastic understatement. School career wins record? Check. School career games started record check? Twice earn Conference USA Pitcher of the Year honors? Check.
As if that were not enough, the senior right-hander from nearby Brandon, Miss., added two more skins to the wall on Wednesday night as McInnis tossed his first career complete game and became the Golden Eagles’ career leader in innings pitched as second-seeded and regular-season co-champion Southern Miss defeated Tulane, 6-1, to wrap up day one of the 2011 C-USA Baseball Championship presented by Trustmark at Trustmark Park.
With the win, Southern Miss improved to 39-15 on the year and will take on Houston on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Tulane, meanwhile, fell to 30-25 and will look to bounce back tomorrow when the Green Wave battle East Carolina at 4 p.m.
McInnis scattered four hits – three singles and a double – while giving up a run and two walks to go along with eight strikeouts. Along the way, he improved to 8-2 on the year and his 386.1 career innings surpasses the former team record of 381.2 established by Darrel Lindsey from 1985-88. His 358 career strikeouts ranks second in the USM record book, and is just 26 shy of Lindsey’s K total of 374.