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American Athletic Conference Weekend Review (March 17th)

AACLogoPROVIDENCE, R.I. – As the weather starts to heat up across the country and conference play draws steadily nearer, American Athletic Conference baseball teams turned in another week of strong play. The solid week of competition saw a 26-11 record in a six-day span, and concluded with the conference seeing multiple representatives in the national top-25 rankings for the first time this season.

Houston used a 4-0 week to vault to the top of the conference leaderboard with a 15-3 overall mark. The Cougars were rewarded for their excellent start to the year when the national rankings were released on Monday, clocking in at No. 23 in the Baseball America poll and No. 24 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Houston joins No. 14/9 Louisville as the two nationally ranked representatives of the league, with Memphis also continuing to receive votes in multiple national polls. Houston started the week with a win over Baylor, then outscored Towson 33-12 in a three-game sweep. The Cougars pitching remains among the nation’s elite, ranking in the top-five in the nation in ERA, WHIP, shutouts, K/BB ratio, BB/9, and shutouts.

Louisville recorded its first unbeaten week of the season with a 5-0 showing after sweeps of Western Illinois and Samford. They are riding a season-best seven-game winning streak to a 15-4 overall mark. Conference Player of the Week Zach Lucas led an offense that scored 55 runs in five games, including their most runs in a three-game series (42 versus Samford) since 1991. The Cardinals lead The American in batting average (.309), slugging percentage (.449), on-base percentage (.403), runs (160), hits (200), RBI (140), doubles (38), triples (7), home runs (13), total bases (291), and stolen bases (42).

UConn used a 4-0 week to improve its record to .500 at 8-8 for the year. The Huskies got wins over Sacred Heart, St. Peter’s, La Salle, and Villanova, sweeping the Big 5 Baseball Bash with the last three victories, and outscoring those four teams by a 39-8 margin.

Cincinnati went 3-1 on the week, facing a pair of Ohio teams in Akron and Dayton. The Bearcats downed the Flyers 18-5 before adding 8-5 and 5-2 wins over the Zips. Ian Happ continued to star at the plate for Cincinnati, and leads the team with a .364 batting average, .469 on-base percentage, .500 slugging percentage, 13 runs, and 16 RBI.

USF added two wins in a series against Rhode Island. The Bulls used a complete game by Casey Mulholland for a series-opening 5-1 win, and then came back from a 3-2 ninth inning deficit Saturday to win on a walk off base hit from Luke Maglich.

UCF also got multiple victories. Despite two midweek losses to No. 2/2 Florida State, including a wild 11-10 affair on Tuesday, the Knights recovered with two wins over Central Connecticut State in the weekend series.

What They’re Saying
“It’s a great feeling to have that honor, but it’s even better feeling knowing that we won tonight. As long as we’re winning, I don’t care what the save column looks like. I’ve learned to put this team first, and right now we’re on a little bit of a roll.”
Houston Closer Chase Wellbrock after recording his 17th career save Friday night, breaking the Cougars’ all-time saves record, previously held by Ryan Wagner.

This Week
Ten nonconference games are scheduled for midweek play on Tuesday and Wednesday. This weekend starts the first conference action of the season. With nine teams in the league, Houston will be the lone school not starting conference play this weekend, as they host the College of Charleston. In the inaugural conference games, Temple is at Memphis, UConn is at USF, Cincinnati travels to UCF, and Rutgers is at Louisville.

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