Monday, May 14, 2007

Conference USA recap for May 11-13

Rice has captured the regular season Conference USA Championship and will be the No. 1 seed at the C-USA Tournament in Greenville, N.C., May 23-27. The Owls are the first team to repeat as regular season Conference USA Champions since Tulane won back-to-back titles in 1997-98.

Rice swept all three games from Tulane over the weekend, increasing its winning streak to 14 games. The 14-game win string is tied for the third-longest in league history. Twice last season the Owls won 14 in a row.

The three losses gave Tulane a final conference record of 9-15, its first-ever losing record in Conference USA games. The Green Wave, who finish the regular with a series vs. Chicago State next weekend, are locked into the No. 7 seed at the conference tournament.

In addition to Rice, three other teams completed weekend sweeps, including two in league play. East Carolina moved into second place in the league standings after winning three in a row against UCF. UAB posted a series sweep at Marshall and the Blazers can finish no lower than sixth place in the regular season standings. In non-conference play, Southern Miss won three straight over Dallas Baptist, including a doubleheader sweep on Saturday that saw both games go to extra innings.

Houston and Memphis hooked up in a wild offensive explosion. The Cougars grabbed game one, 13-7 before the Tigers used a 10-run seventh inning to take game two, 16-10. UH won the series on Sunday with a 10-5 victory. Those two teams are now tied for third place entering the final week of conference play.

C-USA Standings

Conference USA Players of the Week

A pair of batters that helped their teams win conference series on the road share this week's Hitter of the Wweek honors, as Houston's Ryan Lormand and UAB's Ryan Keedy share the award. Pitcher of the Week honors went to Rice freshman Ryan Berry, who wins the award for the third time this season after shutting down Tulane in Friday night's series opener.

Keedy helped lead the Blazers to a 3-1 record this past week with all four games being on the road. He hit an impressive .611 (11-for-18) for the week with a .944 slugging percentage. Errorless at first base for the week with 28 putouts, Keedy hit home runs in back-to-back innings at Troy on Tuesday. He laid down two sacrifice bunts for the week and walked three times. Keedy helped the Blazers clinch a C-USA Tournament berth with the club's sweep at Marshall, going 8-for-18 (.444) with four runs scored. The sweep also assured the team that it will finish no lower than sixth in the standings, the highest for the program since a fourth place finish in 1998.

Lormand, the Cougars leadoff hitter, scored at least two runs, hit safely in and knocked in at least one run in all three games at Memphis. He hit .556 (5-for-9) and topped all Cougars in runs (9), home runs (2), RBI (5), slugging percentage (1.222), walks (4), hit by pitches (2) and stolen bases (2). Lormand set the tone for the series in each game, reaching base safely to lead off and eventually scoring in the first inning. He led all players with four walks and tied career best with three RBI in the series opener on Friday. Lormand had a home run and scored four times on Saturday and closed out the series by starting a five-run first inning in a 10-5 win.

Berry, a true freshman, earned a win in his only appearance last week. The right-hander from Humble, Tex., worked a total of 8.0 innings in a nationally-televised start against C-USA foe Tulane on May 11. He did not allow any runs and gave up just two singles and one double. Berry registered six strikeouts with no walks and held 26 Green Wave batters to a composite .115 batting average before leaving the game with a comfortable 8-0 lead.

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