Conference USA Weekend Preview (March 21st-March 23rd)

ConferenceUSALogoFAU (14-7, 3-3)-#16 Rice (16-6, 5-1)

Friday, 6:30 p.m. – (Austin Gomber vs. Zech Lemond)

Saturday, 1 p.m. – (Jeremy Strawn vs. Blake Fox)

Sunday, 1 p.m. – (Drew Jackson vs. Chase McDowell)

The Matchup

FAU is coming off a weekend series win over La Tech in which both teams combined to score 14 runs in three games. They did not play a mid-week game this week so their arms should be well-rested for Rice. On offense, they’re hitting .290 in 20 games, averaging just over 5 runs a game. The pitching staff has a combined 2.60 ERA in 180 innings with 171 strikeouts.

Rice is coming off a sweep of #29 FIU and a mid-week victory over Texas State. They’ve won six games in a row, and nine of their last 10. As a team they’re hitting .281 and averaging almost 6 runs per game through 22 games. The pitching has an ERA of 2.49 in 210 innings with 178 strikeouts.

Players to Watch

Stephen Kerr and Brendon Sanger are the leaders on offense for FAU. Kerr is hitting a team-high .365, while both lead the team in hits (27) and runs scored (16). Ricky Santiago is the power guy on offense with 3 home runs and 17 RBIs. Austin Gomber has been stellar as of late for the Owls. In his last two starts he’s given up 3 earned runs in 15 innings on 10 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 19. Jeremy Strawn and Drew Jackson have been great all year for FAU as they both have an ERA under 2.50.

John Clay Reeves is coming off a huge weekend that saw his average rise to .415 on the season. Skyler Ewing is the other big threat on offense for Rice as he leads the team in runs (20), HRs (3) and RBIs (25). Blake Fox and Zech Lemond have proved to be a great 1-2 punch in the rotation. Lemond is 2-0 with a 1.40 ERA in 25.2 innings with 27 strikeouts, while Fox has an ERA of 1.38 in 32.2 innings.

 

Quotes

- Sunday starter for Rice, Chase McDowell, on facing FAU:

I don’t really know that much about FAU, but we have to approach these games the same way we always do. We know we have a target on our back, and if we do the same thing we will continue this streak and continue to win ballgames.”

 

ECU (10-11, 3-3)-Charlotte (3-13-1)

Friday, 6 p.m. – (Jeff Hoffman vs. Ryan Butler)

Saturday, 2 p.m. – (Reid Love vs. Corey Roberts)

Sunday, 1 p.m. – (Davis Kirkpatrick vs. Brock Hudgens)

The Matchup

ECU took 2-out-3 from Tulane last weekend and then dropped their mid-week game to VCU. The Pirates are hitting just .253, averaging under 4 runs a game. The pitching has been good with a 3.02 ERA in 185 innings with 132 strikeouts. Zach Houchins is hitting .350 and has scored 12 runs, while Ian Townsend leads the team in home runs (3) and RBIs (17). Reid Love has been the team’s best starter with an ERA of 1.57 in 23 innings.

Charlotte was swept for the second straight weekend in CUSA play, this time to Middle Tennessee State, and they didn’t play a mid-week game. This should be a low-scoring series as Charlotte is hitting just .243 on the season. The pitching staff hasn’t been much better with an ERA north of 4. Logan Sherer is hitting .292 with 2 home runs for the 49ers. Ryan Butler and Brock Hudgens have both been solid in the rotation with ERAs around three and a half. Butler has struck out 21 in 24 innings, while Hudgens has whiffed 28 in 27.2 innings.

 

Marshall (6-12, 3-3)-FIU (17-4, 3-3)

Friday, 6 p.m. – (Josh King vs. Mike Franco)

Saturday, 4 p.m. – (Michael Taylor vs. Mike Ellis)

Sunday, 11 a.m. – (Matt Margaritonda vs. Robby Kalaf)

The Matchup

Marshall was able to salvage a game against Southern Miss last weekend, and then their mid-week game against West Virginia was postponed. The team is hitting a lowly .211, averaging just over 4 runs a game. The pitching staff hasn’t been much better with an ERA just under 4. Cory Garrastazu is the one bright spot on offense, hitting .347 in 49 at-bats. Likewise on the pitching side, Josh King is the lone bright spot with an ERA of 2.76 in five starts (29.1 innings) with 26 strikeouts.

After climbing up the rankings to #29, FIU was humbled by Rice getting swept last weekend. They were able to bounce-back for a mid-week win over Florida Memorial. The offense is hitting .317, while the pitching staff has a combined 2.02 ERA. Aramis Garcia remains hot for FIU with a .415 average, 24 runs scored, 5 home runs and 21 RBIs. Friday night starter, Mike Franco, is 3-0 with a 1.10 ERA in 32.2 innings, and he has struck out 35 batters in the process.

 

Old Dominion (12-9, 2-4)-La Tech (7-12, 2-4)

Friday, 6 p.m. – (Ryan Yarbrough vs. Adam Derouen)

Saturday, 3 p.m. – (Tommy Alexander vs. Phil Maton)

Sunday, 11 a.m. – (Andy Roberts vs. Richie Navari)

The Matchup

ODU lost 2-out-of-3 to UAB last weekend and then dropped a tough 1-0, 16 inning loss to Liberty during the week. The offense is hitting .270 average five and half runs per game. The pitching has been good as well, with an ERA of 3.02 in 202.1 innings. P.J. Huggins is the leader on offense with a .305 average. Andy Roberts has a 2.17 ERA in five starts.

La Tech is coming off a series loss to FAU in which they lost both games by a combined three runs. The offense is only hitting .241 and averaging just over three and a half runs per game. The pitching has been awful with an ERA of 5.35. Taylor Love leads the team in average (.338), runs (11) and hits (23). Phil Maton is coming off a complete game win over FAU and has a 3.02 ERA on the season.

 

UTSA (15-6, 2-1)-Southern Miss (10-11, 2-1)

Friday, 6 p.m. – (Brock Hartson vs. Christian Talley)

Saturday, 2 p.m. – (Nolan Trabanino vs. Cameron Giannini)

Sunday, 1 p.m. – (Justin Anderson vs. A.J. Glasshof)

The Matchup

UTSA won 3-out-4 against Columbia last weekend and didn’t play a mid-week game. The offense is hitting .294, scoring 6.4 runs a game. The pitching staff has a 2.45 ERA in 195 innings with 179 strikeouts. UTSA has six guys hitting over .300 with John Wellborn leading the way at .358. Nolan Trabanino is 4-0 in five starts with an ERA of 1.15 in 31.1 innings.

Southern Miss is coming off a series win over Marshall and a mid-week win over Louisiana-Monroe. The offense is hitting just .237, but is averaging 4.9 runs per game. The pitching has been decent with a 3.66 ERA, striking out 185 batters in 187 innings. Matt Durst is the only Golden Eagle hitting over .300 at .308 with 3 home runs and 16 RBIs. Christian Talley is the ace of the staff with a 2.18 ERA in 20.2 innings with 20 strikeouts.

 

MTSU (8-11, 4-2)-Tulane (10-10, 3-3)

Friday, 6:30 p.m. – (Zac Curtis vs. Tyler Mapes)

Saturday, 2 p.m. – (Paul Mittura vs. Randy LeBlanc)

Sunday, 1 p.m. – (Johnathan Frebis vs. J.P. France)

The Matchup

MTSU swept Charlotte last weekend and then lost to Lipscomb in their mid-week game. The team is hitting .254, averaging four and a half runs a game. The pitching numbers aren’t great, but the starters have been much better as of late; especially Zac Curtis who has struck out 41 batters in 32.1 innings this year. Austin Bryant and Trent Miller have been excellent with that bat. Bryant is hitting .393 with 16 runs scored, while Miller is hitting .384 with 16 RBIs.

Tulane is coming off a series loss to ECU and a mid-week loss to Southeastern Louisiana. The Green Wave offense is hitting .244, but is putting up almost 5 runs a game. The pitching staff has a 3.74 ERA in 173.1 innings with 152 strikeouts. Richard Carthon has been the offensive leader with a .338 average and 17 runs scored. Tyler Mapes is 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA in four starts, while Randy LeBlanc has struck out 26 batters in 29.1 innings with an ERA of 2.76.

 

UAB (16-5, 4-2)-Hawaii (9-11)

Thursday, 10:35 p.m. – (Chase Mallard vs. Matt Cooper)

Friday, 10:35 p.m. – (Alex Luna vs. Scott Squier)

Saturday, 10:35 p.m. – (Johnny Lieske vs. Jarrett Arakawa)

Sunday, 5 p.m. – (Ben Bullard vs. Scott Kuzminsky)