Rice and Southern Miss to Clash in CUSA Tournament Final with A lot on the Line

Southern Miss and Rice will square off Sunday in the Conference USA Baseball Tournament Championship game. 

The Rice Owls are trying to keep their streak alive of reaching 22 straight NCAA Tournaments. They haven’t had the year typical of a Rice team, but they’ve gotten hot at the right time and are one win away from punching their NCAA Tournament ticket and extending the streak to 23 years.

They’ve blown straight through the CUSA Baseball Tournament and advanced to the championship game with a 13-2 win over Florida Atlantic on Saturday.

Dane Myers was 3-5 with a home run, 3 runs scored and 4 RBI for the Owls.

Will Amador navigated through 6 innings giving up just 2 runs on 6 hits and a walk. He had to rely heavily on the Rice defense as he didn’t record a single strikeout.

Meanwhile, Southern Miss had to win two games on Saturday to advance to the CUSA Baseball Tournament Championship game.

It looked like that wasn’t going to happen as they were down 5-1 going into the bottom of the eighth. But they scored five runs in the final two frames to earn a walk-off win over Charlotte.

Taylor Braley had the 2-run, walk-off home run for the Golden Eagles.

Things went a little smoother in the second game, although it was tied 6-6 going into the eighth inning when Southern Miss exploded for four runs.

Things got a little interesting in the bottom of the ninth as well. Charlotte scored two runs and brought the tying run to the plate, but the Southern Miss closer, Nick Sandlin, got the strikeout to end the game.

 

NCAA Tournament Picture: Charlotte was oh so close to securing an at-large big with a win over Southern Miss, but that loss in the ninth inning might cost them a trip to the postseason. They are lumped in with La Tech, Old Dominion, FAU and Rice who all have a similar RPI. I think Conference USA definitely gets at least three teams in the tournament, but it’s very difficult determining which three get in. Southern Miss is a lock, and in my opinion Rice should be a lock, but they will probably have to win the championship to get in. La Tech still has the best RPI of the group, so maybe they still get in. And I think Old Dominion gets in as well, leaving FAU and Charlotte on the outside looking in. Also, I think a win on Sunday for Southern Miss ensures them a national seed in the tournament.

 

CUSA Tournament Championship Preview: Rice clearly has the advantage in this game pitching-wise having played less games in the tournament. However, there isn’t much pitching that is going to stop that Southern Miss offense. I expect this to be a very high scoring game, and I think the Golden Eagles win, leaving the selection committee with a difficult decision about Rice.

Prediction: Southern Miss

LSU & Arkansas Blast Their Way to 2017 SEC Baseball Tournament Championship

Both semi-final games were cut short due to a power surges as LSU and Arkansas advanced to the 2017 SEC Baseball Tournament Championship game. 

LSU kicked the day off with it’s second straight 10-running as they beat South Carolina 11-0 in 7 innings.

Kramer Robertson continued his good hitting in the tournament going 3-5 with 3 runs and 2 RBI, including a home run. Greg Deichmann also hit a home run and finished 3-4 with 2 runs scored and 3 RBI.

Jared Poche was solid on the mound for LSU as well tossing six shutout innings allowing just 2 hits and 2 walks with 1 strikeout.

South Carolina’s run in the SEC Tournament comes to a disappointing end. They simply ran out of steam, and more importantly, they ran out of pitching.

They used four different pitchers in the seven inning game, and only one didn’t allow a run.

The offense wasn’t much better as they only had three hits and two walks.

 

Things were even uglier for Florida in the second game as Brady Singer gave up 8 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks in just 1 inning pitched as Arkansas ran away with this one 16-0.

Chad Spanberger, the clear front-runner for tournament MVP at this point, hit two more home runs on Saturday and finished 3-6 with 3 runs scored and 3 RBI.

Four hitters in the Arkansas lineup had three hits. They had 15 hits and eight walks as a team.

Dominic Fletcher was 3-4 with a home run, 3 runs scored and 4 RBI.

Kacey Murphy tossed a 7-inning complete game shutout allowing just 2 hits and 3 walks with 8 strikeouts.

Arkansas and LSU will meet in the championship game on Sunday, while Florida will head back home and prepare for their regional matchup.

Things are a bit more questionable for South Carolina.

 

NCAA Tournament Picture: I would have felt really good about the Gamecocks getting into the NCAA Tournament had they beat LSU on Saturday. Now that they didn’t, I’m not sure they get in at this point. It will be an uncomfortable selection show on Monday for South Carolina. Florida is a lock for a national seed, as is LSU. I think Arkansas has worked it’s way into a hosting position. A win over LSU Sunday would almost certainly guarantee them a hosting spot next weekend.

 

Championship Game Preview: It’s been pretty evident that LSU and Arkansas were on a collision coarse in this tournament. Outside of a bullpen collapse against Mississippi State, the Razorbacks have been on fire in this tournament. Meanwhile, nobody has even come close to touching LSU. Both of these offenses have been tearing it up in Hoover, and I don’t expect it to be any different on Sunday. LSU probably has a little more pitching left at this point. I just think the Tigers are unbeatable right now. If I had to pick today, I’d pick them to win the College World Series.

Prediction: LSU