This Week in C-USA Baseball (5/16)

This Week in C-USA Baseball
CUSA Weekly Recap
No. 19 FAU vs. No. 14 Rice: 1-8, 10-3. Series split 1-1 after the final game was canceled due to weather. Jon Duplantier fired his sixth double-digit strikeout affair this season, recording 11 in the series opener. The Rice ace allowed only one run over 6 2/3 innings. C.J. Chatham and Stephen Kerr led the FAU offense to a salvage win in the rain-shortened series, each turning in three of the Owl’s 16 hits. Chatham added a homer and 3 RBI.
Marshall vs. WKU: 8-1, 14-1, 5-2. Marshall sweeps series 3-0. The Herd picked up its third consecutive sweep led by solid pitching and Leo Valenti playing the part of the little engine who could. The Marshall shortstop worked an 8-for-12 series with three home runs and three doubles over the weekend, including a 4-for-5 performance in game one followed by a two home run outing in game two. Tommy Lane propelled the Herd to the sweep with 3 RBI in the finale. Chase Boster and J.D. Hammer worked quality outings in games one and three.
MTSU vs. ODU: 4-6, 10-5, 2-6. ODU wins series 2-1. Zach Rutherford worked a 3-for-5 day at the plate, adding a double, a run and RBI to lead the Monarchs to a 30-win season. Blake Benefield turned in a career day to even the series, smacking 7 RBI with a home run. Adam Bainbridge secured the series for the Monarchs, delivering seven shutout innings while allowing only four hits in the winning effort as ODU clinched a berth in the CUSA Championship.
Charlotte vs. UTSA: 22-4, 4-2, final game canceled due to weather. Charlotte wins series 2-0. T.J. Nichting led the 49ers explosive offensive production, going 4-for-6 with 3 RBI. Five 49er hitters drove in three runs in the dismantling of the Road Runners. Drew Ober’s two hit day secured the series for the 49ers while providing a heart beat of hope in reaching the CUSA Championship.
La Tech vs. No. 22 Southern Miss: 7-5, 3-7, 0-2. Southern Miss wins series 2-1. The Bulldogs kept their impressive winning streak rolling to open the series with a win over league-leading Southern Miss. Jordan Washam and Chance Lunceford smacked two hits and 2 RBI to clinch a berth in the CUSA Championship. However, the Bulldogs failed to continue their streak as Kirk McCarty dispatched them for his sixth win of the season. Nick Dawson led the Eagles with three hits, one going deep, while adding 2 RBI. Walker Powell and Nick Sandlin combined to squash any La. Tech hopes of an upset by tossing a shutout in the finale.
FIU vs. UAB: 5-4, 11-0, 11-4. FIU sweeps series 3-0. The Panthers’ Irving Lopez opened the weekend with two doubles and a triple to secure a win in game one. Chris Mourelle continued his dominant performance over UAB, moving to 4-0 in four starts versus the Blazers while dropping his ERA to 0.68. Mourelle fired seven scoreless innings in the win. Jack Schaaf provided the Panthers’ pop at the plate with a four-hit day with 2 RBI. FIU’s stellar pitching performance continued with Andres Nunez surrendering only two hits over five shutout innings for the sweep. Schaaf added three more RBI in the win.
Standout Performers
Pitcher of the Week: Marshall’s Parker Danciu took his first honor of the season after firing eight strong innings of one-run ball in the series clincher for the Herd. The southpaw scattered eight hits in his longest outing of the year while striking out four and walking only one.
Hitter of the Week: Marshall’s Leo Valenti was a one-man army at the plate for the Herd in the sweep over WKU, finishing 8-for-12 with three doubles, three homers, 5 RBI, six runs and an on-base percentage of .714. He struck out only once in the three-game series. Hitting from the nine hole, Valenti consistently rolled the order over to the Herd’s dangerous leadoff hitters.
Six of the eight possible berths into next week’s CUSA Championship have been claimed, but there’s plenty of room to jockey in the standings while four teams at the bottom battle for the final two positions. Here’s a look at the CUSA Standings as we being the final weekend of regular season play.
  1. 1.      Southern Miss (20-7)
  2. 2.      Rice (19-7)
  3. 3.      Marshall (19-8)
  4. 4.      FAU (18-8)
  5. 5.      La. Tech (16-11)
  6. 6.      ODU (14-13)
  7. 7.      FIU (12-15)
  8. 8.      Charlotte (11-15)
  9. 9.      WKU (10-17)
  10. 10.  UAB (10-17)
  11. 11.  UTSA (6-20)
  12. 12.  MTSU (5-22)
Fireworks should be a plenty in this final weekend of regular season play, with desperation for some taking over in hopes of gaining a ticket to the dance. The most notable series will be Charlotte and UAB, with the 49ers and the Blazers fighting for one of the two final tickets to Hattiesburg. Charlotte has won its last three, while UAB has dropped eight straight. Considering the Blazers have been ice cold on the road this year, don’t be shocked to see the 49ers break out the brooms.
Marshall and ODU are both in, as are Rice and La. Tech, but all can better their overall seed depending on the outcome of the weekend. Marshall is only one game out of first, while La. Tech holds a two game edge over ODU. Likewise, ODU sits two games above FIU. These numbers become uber important with a series sweep in any of the respective series.
FIU holds a half game lead over Charlotte and a full two game led over WKU, but with a matchup with top ranked Southern Miss, the Panthers will need every bit of luck they can find to win this series.
As it stands, the Rice and FAU rainouts last weekend could prove to be beneficial, providing they both sweep this weekend.
  1. 1.      Rice (22-7)
  2. 2.      Southern Miss (22-8)
  3. 3.      FAU (21-8)
  4. 4.      Marshall (21-9)
  5. 5.      La. Tech (16-14)
  6. 6.      ODU (15-15)
  7. 7.      Charlotte (14-15)
  8. 8.      FIU (13-17)
  9. 9.      WKU (10-20)
  10. 10.  UAB (10-20)
  11. 11.  UTSA (8-21)
  12. 12.  MTSU (6-24)