This Week in C-USA Baseball (5/2)

Photo courtesy of Marshall University

This Week in C-USA Baseball (5/2)
CUSA Weekly Recap
No. 25 Southern Miss vs. FAU: 4-9, 4-9, 4-3. FAU wins series 2-1. In a must-win series for the Owls, the bats came to life and they narrowly missed the sweep to maintain their position in the upper spots of the conference. Nick Swan worked 4 2/3 innings in relief while retiring the final 11 batters as the Owls handed Cord Cockrell his first loss of the season. Stephen Kerr smacked a double, triple and 3 RBI in the opener and CJ Chatham’s five-hit performance in game two secured the series. Chuckie Robinson sparked the Eagles’ win in the finale with a three-hit day and 3 RBI, including a two-run go-ahead double in the sixth.
UAB vs. ODU: 3-6, 4-7, 6-3. Monarchs win series 2-1. Zach Rutherford turned in a pair of 3-for-5 games at the plate with 4 RBI in the opening games. It was his 17th multi-hit game of the season. Jacob Armstrong went 3-for-3 in the finale for the Blazers and Griffin Gum smacked 3 RBI.
No. 16 Rice vs. Charlotte: 5-1, 0-1, 12-4. Rice wins series 2-1. Jon Duplantier fired eight innings of one-run ball while allowing only three hits and striking out 12 in the opener. Colton Laws pitched seven shutout innings and T.J. Nichting drove in the lone run for the 49ers to even the series. Ryan Chandler led the Owls with a 4-for-5 day at the plate with a double and 2 RBI in the rubber match.
FIU vs. WKU: 8-7, 8-7, 2-3 (12). FIU wins series 2-1. The Panthers claimed a pair of one-run wins to claim the series. FIU came back from down four in the sixth in game one behind Jack Schaaf’s 3-for-5 outing with a home run and 2 RBI. Zack Files and Nick Mira had multiple hits in game two as the Panthers claimed the series but Ryan Thurston’s career-high 10 shutout innings and 11 strikeouts salvaged a win for the Toppers.
Marshall vs. MTSU: 11-1, 25-9, 6-5. Marshall sweeps series 3-0. The Herd had a series to remember after scoring 42 runs over the three game series including tying for the fourth most runs scored in school history after a 25-run spectacle. Aaron Bossi led the attack in game one with a 3-for-5 day including a homer and 3 RBI, but the weekend belonged to Tyler Ratliff and Tommy Lane. Ratliff was 8-for-15 in the series with eight runs, 7 RBI and two home runs. Lane added eight runs, 8 RBI, two doubles and a long ball with an 8-for-13 performance in the dismantling of the Blue Raiders.
La. Tech vs. UTSA: 4-2, 14-9, 4-5 (11). La. Tech wins series 2-1. Nate Harris tossed five shutout innings in relief and struck out four and Marshall Boggs drove in two for the game one win. Chance Lunceford led the Bulldogs’ offensive onslaught with three hits and 4 RBI to take the series. The Roadrunners bounced back in the finale behind Byran Arias’ game-winning RBI to score Trent Bowles.
Standout Performers
Pitcher of the Week: Ryan Thurston of WKU led the Toppers in a 12-inning marathon by tossing 10 shutout innings while fanning 11. Both were career highs for the southpaw. Thurston handed the ball off to the bullpen after tossing 130 pitches.
Hitter of the Week: Marshall’s lumberjacks of Tyler Ratliff and Tommy Lane combined for a 16-for-28 series, scoring 16 runs, 15 RBI, two home runs by Ratliff and one by Lane and three doubles from the duo. They combined for a 9-for-10 game in the 25-run series clincher.
Conference Matchup of the Week: ODU vs. Charlotte
Its moving week in C-USA and this series is about who’s in and who’s out. The Monarchs sit tied for sixth with WKU and UAB at 10-11, with FIU and Charlotte on the outside looking in. ODU took 2-of-3 over UAB last weekend, while Charlotte dropped a pair to league-leading Rice.
ODU will lean on the tandem right-handers of Sam Sinnen and Victor Diaz as it tries to separate itself from the logjam at the bottom. Diaz leads the Monarchs battery with a 2.30 ERA over 58 innings followed by Sinnen’s 4-1 mark and 3.29 ERA. As a staff, ODU has a team 4.53 ERA. The closer Nick Hartman holds a 5.94 ERA with five saves. ODU needs this series in a bad way and it all starts from the bump.
Offensively, Connor Myers and Zach Rutherford pace the Monarchs with a .324 and .305 average, respectively. Myers brings the pain at the plate for ODU, leading the team in nearly every offensive category. The downside to the Monarchs’ lineup is it is the second worst in the league with a .256 average, but leads the league with 13 triples.
Colton Laws and Josh Maciejewski will pair to slow the Monarchs from the mound with Sunday’s starter for both yet to be announced. Laws fired a shutout win over league-leading Rice last weekend and Maciejewski worked a complete-game one-hitter over Marshall last month. Charlotte’s team ERA is forgettable, tipping the scales at 5.34 with little help coming in relief when the starter’s day is over.
Fortunately for the 49ers pitching staff, the offense provides a spark at the plate in the form of a .291 team average, providing plenty of scoring opportunities. However, Charlotte has struggled in plating runs, but do enter with a plus-13 in scoring over the Monarchs. Charlotte is led by Logan Sherer and T.J. Nichting’s .360 average at the plate with Brett Netzer’s .359 a close second. With four 49ers’ players hitting over .300 on the season, Charlotte has a shot of exploiting the ODU pitching in what could be a huge weekend at home.
Last Meeting: Charlotte took 2-of-3 from ODU last year at Bud Metheny Baseball Complex.
OUTLOOK: Runs should be a plenty this weekend in an offensive showcase from both programs. A series win by ODU could provide separation from WKU and UAB who have series with teams in the top of the conference. However, a Charlotte series win would move the 49ers in and the Monarchs out, making this weekend a must win for both. Charlotte has been good at home this season and takes advantage of ODU 7-8 mark on the road.
Preview of this Week’s Key Matchups: UAB vs. Marshall
Marshall returns home for the first time in nearly three weeks in a pivotal series with UAB in Charleston. Marshall sits only two games out of the conference lead and any slip up this weekend could send the Herd out of the top four.
Marshall tallied 42 runs last weekend in its first conference road sweep since 2006 and have the big sticks of Aaron Bossi, Tyler Ratliff and Tommy Lane leading the way. The trio that makes up the meat of the Herd’s lineup have been seeing the pill like a beach ball and UAB will have its work cut out this weekend while keeping the big sticks at bay. However, Marshall’s attack begins with Corey Bird and D.J. Gee at the top of the order with both being two of the fastest in the conference.
The Herd’s pitching staff has bettered over the season with senior Chase Boster providing a great arm to open each series. He is followed in the order by a mixture of freshman Joshua Shapiro, Patrick Danciu and J.D. Hammer, with the latter eager to return to the rotation after suffering a strained oblique muscle a few weeks back.
The Blazers enter the weekend with the worst average in the league but owns the fourth best ERA, leaving the pressure on the backs of the pitching staff. Ryan Ruggles anchors the rotation for the Blazers followed by Tanner Graham. Ruggles’ 2.82 ERA gives the Blazers their best shot each time out with the other starters needing ample run support in hopes of a win. UAB’s closer Thomas Lowery does a quality job in the back end of the pen, earning eight saves on the season with a 3.11 ERA.
UAB possess only one .300 hitter in Brewer Hicklen as the production falls off quickly in the order. Griffin Gum and Carter Pharis add some pop to the lineup with both in the top of the team’s stats in extra base hits and RBI.
Last Meeting: UAB won the series with a 2-1 win in the rubber match last year at Regions Field.
OUTLOOK: The Blazers are the third worst team in the conference in scoring and have won only three games on the road all season making this weekend equally challenging before the first pitch is thrown. A lot is on line for both this weekend, as the Herd is trying to maintain its position in the top of the standings while the Blazers are fighting to stay in the top eight for a spot in the CUSA Championship at the end of the month. Marshall has been firing on all cylinders of late and UAB is terrible on the road. Marshall takes another series this season and could pull out the brooms for Sunday if the bats stay hot.
Other C-USA games this weekend include: No. 14 Rice travels to FIU and UTSA heads to Boca Raton to meet FAU. MTSU visits La. Tech and Southern Miss entertains WKU in Hattiesburg.