The first week of Conference USA play in baseball went about as expected. The only real surprises of the weekend was UAB taking 2-of-3 from La Tech and Charlotte winning their series against FIU.
Old Dominion had the best weekend as they were the only team to come up with a sweep, and it came over a very good Western Kentucky squad.
Here are your scores from the week:
Old Dominion vs. Western Kentucky
Game 1: ODU 8 – WKU 3
Game 2: ODU 4 – WKU 2
Game 3: ODU 12 – WKU 8
Rice vs. UTSA
Game 1: Rice 9 – UTSA 4
Game 2: UTSA 6 – Rice 1
Game 3: Rice 1 – UTSA 0
Charlotte vs. FIU
Game 1: Char. 4 – FIU 3
Game 2: FIU 8 – Char. 5
Game 3: Char. 6 – FIU 2
Southern Miss. vs. Marshall
Game 1: USM 14 – Marshall 8
Game 2: Marshall 10 – USM 8
Game 3: USM 3 – Marshall 2
Middle Tennessee vs. FAU
Game 1: MTSU 8 – FAU 6
Game 2: FAU 7 – MTSU 2
Game 3: FAU 12 – MTSU 1
UAB vs. La Tech
Game 1: UAB 7 – La Tech 0
Game 2: UAB 10 – La Tech 8
Game 3: La Tech 5 – UAB 4
Conference USA Week 2 Preview
The second week will begin a little sooner this week to avoid Easter Sunday. All but one series will begin on Thursday and end on Saturday. Old Dominion and Rice will start as normal on Friday and will finish the series on Sunday.
Coincidentally, the Monarchs and Owls are our matchup of the week!
Matchup of the Week: Rice vs. Old Dominion
ODU (16-4, 3-0) enters the series after a sweep of Western Kentucky, while Rice (10-9, 2-1) picked up a series win on the road against UTSA.
This is a great opportunity for Old Dominion to prove they are one of the best teams in the conference. If they can win a series on the road against Rice they could possibly move into the Top 25 as they are starting to get some attention in most polls.
The Monarch’s team stats don’t jump out at you as they’re fifth in the conference with a 3.93 ERA, and they’re eighth in the conference with a .268 batting average.
Rice is hitting just .240 as team, which ranks only ahead of UAB in Conference USA, and they’re fourth in the league with a 3.66 ERA.
ODU averages 5.9 runs a game to Rice’s 4.1, but you also have to consider the level of competition that the Owls played during the preseason.
The Friday night matchup of Jon Duplantier versus ODU’s Sam Sinnen should be fun to watch. Duplantier is a top MLB Draft prospect who is 1-2 with a 3.27 ERA on the year with 39 strikeouts in 33 innings. Sinnen is 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 26.1 innings.
Offensively ODU’s Connor Myers is hitting .341 with 20 runs scored, 3 home runs and 13 RBIs, while Nick Walker is hitting .338 with a team-high 15 RBIs.
Rice’s Ford Proctor is batting .354 with a team-high 12 RBIs, while Ryan Chandler is batting .344 with 12 runs scored.
Rice really needs to win two of these games at home to make sure they stay atop the conference standings and in contention for a spot in the Top 25. The Monarchs need to at least get one to continue their momentum, and if they win the series they’ll establish themselves in the top half of the conference.
Marshall (10-8, 1-2) goes on the road to face FIU (11-13, 1-2) as both teams look to pick themselves up after losing their opening Conference USA series.
The Thundering Herd are ninth in the conference in average at .249, while FIU is third at .308. Marshall ranks 10th in the conference with a staff ERA of 4.87, and the Panthers are eighth at 4.23.
This should be an interesting matchup as both teams need a series win to get things moving in a positive direction. I like the Panthers to win this series.
The Blazers (8-12, 2-1) will travel to FAU (15-3, 2-1) this weekend with both teams coming off series wins. The Owls are ranked 24th in the D1Baseball poll and 19th in the USA Today poll.
FAU has by far been the best team in the conference so far as they lead Conference USA in hitting (.312) and pitching (2.63). The Blazers are a very young team that has struggled on offense as they’re last in the league with a team average of .221, but they hold their own in the pitching department with a 3.65 ERA.
UAB has yet to win a game on the road this year and they’ll be hard pressed to pick one up against the Owls this weekend.
After a big series win to open Conference USA play, the Niners (11-9, 2-1) will look to carry that momentum into a series with La Tech (10-6, 1-2) this weekend. The Bulldogs are coming off a disappointing road series loss to UAB, but are hoping to bounce back at home.
Charlotte is fifth in the conference with an average of .298, and seventh with an ERA of 4.19, while La Tech is sixth with a batting average of .292 and ninth with an ERA of 4.24.
Both of these teams could be battling for the last spot in the conference tournament, but I like the home team to get the series win here.
MTSU (11-9, 1-2) and WKU (11-8, 0-3) are both coming off disappointing weekends and will be looking to get on track in week 2.
The Hilltoppers are tied for first in the conference with a team batting average of .312, while MTSU is 10th at .245. The Blue Raiders are 11th in the conference with a team ERA of 4.97 and WKU is sixth at 4.10.
I would be shocked if WKU doesn’t at least win this series, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they swept MTSU.
The Road Runners (10-9, 1-2) picked up a big win over Rice this past weekend, but lost the series finale 1-0. Now they’ll travel to face Southern Miss (16-5, 2-1) who is trying to make their claim as the best team in the conference after a series win against Marshall last weekend.
Sothern Miss is fourth in the conference with a .306 average, and second with a 3.49 ERA. UTSA is seventh in the conference with a .285 average, and last with a 5.07 ERA.
Unfortunately this one could get ugly for the Road Runners. The Golden Eagles should easily win this series at home, and could possibly get the sweep.