Tulane wins American Baseball Championship title to claim an NCAA automatic bid

The Tulane Green Wave will play in the NCAA baseball tournament once again.

Jackson Linn hit his second home run of the game with two out in the bottom of the ninth on Sunday, boosting the Green Wave to an 11-10 victory over the Wichita State Shockers for the American Baseball Championship title.

Powered by five home runs in the title game, the Green Wave clinched the postseason crown and an NCAA tournament automatic bid out of the American Athletic Conference for a second straight season.

In a game that went back and forth, third-seeded Tulane built a 3-2 lead after three innings. Undeterred, fourth-seeded Wichita State answered with five runs in the fifth to take charge, 7-3. In the end, though, the Green Wave had more pop in their bats.

They scored three runs in the fifth and fourth more in the sixth, building a 10-7 advantage. The Shockers had one more burst in them, crossing three runs in the seventh to tie the game.

In the top of the eighth, Tulane lefthander Luc Fladda relieved with one out and retired the next two Wichita State batters in order. Fladda would finish the ninth, as well, working around a two-out hit by pitch to shut down the Shockers again.

Wichita State lefty Hunter Holmes, throwing well in the bottom half, struck out Colin Tuft and retired Marcus Cline on a ground ball as the possibility of an extra-innings showdown loomed.

Linn had other ideas. He stepped to the plate, and on a 2-2 count, drilled a pitch that landed beyond the left field fence for the game winner. Flada (4-3) became the winning pitcher, while Holmes (1-4) took the loss.

Records

Wichita State 32-29
Tulane 35-24

Notable

The American is expected to send two of its teams into the NCAA tournament. Tulane will get the automatic bid, and East Carolina at 43-15 overall is expected to receive an at large. The 64-team bracket will be announced Monday.

The American’s tournament had a six-day run at the BayCare Ballpark in Clearwater, Fla. UTSA, the tournament’s No. 2 seed, lost its first two games and bowed out last Wednesday.

The Roadrunners won seven of their nine AAC weekend series, including one in New Orleans in which they swept all three games from the Green Wave.

UTSA finished 32-24 overall and 17-10 in conference.

Wichita State, Tulane set to play for the AAC’s postseason title

The Wichita State Shockers will play the Tulane Green Wave today in the title game of the American Baseball Championship.

They’ll throw the first pitch momentarily in a game that will be staged in Clearwater, Fla., at the BayCare Ballpark.

Let’s take a look at the teams vying for the American Athletic Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament:

Wichita State

Overall record: 32-28

In the American championship tournament: 3-1 … Beat UAB 8-2 on May 21 … beat East Carolina 14-4 on May 23 … lost to East Carolina 4-5 on on May 25 … beat East Carolina 12-2 in eight innings (run rule) on May 25.

Last 10 games: 8-2

Record in the AAC regular season: 15-12

In nine games covering the last three AAC weekend series: 7-2

Record versus Tulane: 1-2 (at Wichita, Kan.)

Versus UTSA: 2-1 (at San Antonio)

Top hitters: Camden Johnson, .328, 2 HR, 28 RBI; Derek Williams, 14 HR, 44 RBI.

Today’s starting pitcher: Tommy LaPour, 6-3, 4.12 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, .226 batting average against.

Tulane

Record overall: 34-24

In the American championship tournament: 3-0 … Beat FAU 14-2 in 7 innings (run rule) on May 21 … beat Charlotte 7-5 on May 23 … beat FAU 13-1 in 7 innings (run rule) on May 25.

Last 10 games: 8-2

Record in the AAC regular season: 15-12

In nine games covering the last three AAC weekend series: 6-3

Record versus Wichita State: 2-1 (at Wichita, Kan.)

Versus UTSA: 0-3 (at New Orleans)

Top hitters: Brady Marget, .335, 9 HR, 53 RBI; Connor Rasmussen, .324, 7 HR, 48 RBI

Today’s starting pitcher: Chandler Welch, 7-3, 4.41 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, .296 batting average against.

American conference expected to send two teams to the NCAA baseball tournament

The American Athletic Conference is expected to send two teams to the NCAA Division I baseball tournament.

The Tulane Green Wave and the Wichita State Shockers will play one game for the title in the American Baseball Championship on Sunday in Clearwater, Fla. The winner will claim the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA’s 64-team field.

The East Carolina Pirates are expected to be an NCAA at-large selection based on their strong showing in the regular season.

Tulane and Wichita State emerged from the semifinals to claim spots in the American title game.

The Green Wave advanced in only one game in the semifinal round, dispatching the Florida Atlantic University Owls, 13-1, in seven innings on the run rule. It took two games for the Shockers to eliminate the Pirates.

East Carolina claimed a 5-4 victory in a wild one, when Dixon Williams stole home with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning to cap a three-run rally. The win forced a second game between the teams, in which the Shockers rebounded to win 12-2 in eight innings on the run rule.

American Baseball Championship semifinals are underway in Clearwater

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The field in the American Baseball Championship has been trimmed to four, with the tournament semifinals set to commence today in Clearwater, Fla.

The Wichita State Shockers will play the top-seeded and regular-season champion East Carolina Pirates at 9 a.m. Central, followed by the Tulane Green Wave and the Florida Atlantic Owls 47 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.

As many as four games could be contested today because the Pirates and the Owls will need to win twice to knock out their opponents.

East Carolina coach Cliff Godwin will be serving the second of a two-game suspension. If the Pirates win, he will be able to come back in the re-match.

The title game in the six-game conference tournament is set for Sunday at 11 a.m. at the BayCare Ballpark in Clearwater.

Today’s matchups

East Carolina (42-14) vs. Wichita State (31-27) – The Shockers enter the semifinals with tournament victories over the UAB Blazers (8-2) and the Pirates (14-4). Wichita State caught fire with a regular-season series win at UTSA has now won nine of its last 10 overall. The Shockers will need to win Saturday and again Sunday in the American title game to secure an NCAA tournament bid. The Pirates, based on their strong regular season, are likely a lock to make the national field. East Carolina coach Cliff Godwin will be serving the second game of a conference-mandated suspension.

Florida Atlantic (28-28) vs. Tulane (33-24) – The Tulane Green Wave look to be in good shape coming into the semis with four straight victories and a day’s rest. On top of that, the Tulane pitching hasn’t had to work quite as hard as some others this week after beating FAU 14-2 in seven innings on the run rule Tuesday. The Green Wave downed Charlotte 7-5 on Thursday. Both the Owls and the Green Wave will need to win the tournament in Clearwater to secure an NCAA automatic bid.

Notable

Both once-beaten East Carolina and Florida Atlantic stayed alive with victories on Friday.

Playing without All-American Trey Yesavage (injury) and Dixon Williams (one-game suspension), and also without coach Cliff Godwin (suspension), the Pirates beat Rice 8-7 Friday to stay alive. They opened the tournament by beating Rice, 12-4, on Tuesday and then losing to Wichita State, 14-4, on Thursday. Godwin was suspended for his actions in the 14-4 loss.

Florida Atlantic’s season has also been on the brink all week.

Sixth-seeded FAU took a 14-2 loss to Wichita State on opening day on Tuesday before bouncing back the next day to down the UTSA Roadrunners, 12-5. With new life, the Owls surged into a seven-run lead on the Charlotte 49ers Friday and then held on as Danny Trehey pitched shutout innings in the eighth and ninth to secure a 10-8 victory.

Undefeated Wichita State, Tulane reach semis in American Baseball Championship

The Wichita State Shockers and the Tulane Green Wave have played their way into commanding position to reach the title game in the American Baseball Championship.

In the tournament being staged at Clearwater, Fla., both lead their double-elimination brackets with 2-0 records and are already slotted into the semifinals, which will be held on Saturday.

Matchups in the semifinals will be determined Friday by the outcome in two elimination games.

In one bracket, the Rice Owls play the East Carolina Pirates at noon Central time. In the other, which will start 47 minutes after the conclusion of the first game, the Charlotte 49ers will play the Florida Atlantic Owls.

The losers will be eliminated and the winners will move on to play Saturday. The Rice-East Carolina winner will play Wichita State. The Charlotte-FAU winner will take on Tulane.

A possibility exists that four games could be played in the bracket semifinals. Teams coming out of the losers’ bracket will be eliminated with one loss. But both Wichita State and Tulane would need to be beaten twice.

The championship game has been set for Sunday at 11 a.m. Central.

Thursday’s results

Wichita State beat East Carolina, 14-4
Tulane beat Charlotte, 7-5

Notable

The conference announced Friday morning that it has suspended East Carolina coach Cliff Godwin for two games and East Carolina player Dixon Williams for one following a play against Wichita State Thursday.

Godwin was ejected from Thursday’s game and assessed an additional two-game suspension for violating NCAA Rule 2-26-h, which states that “no team personnel may continue to argue or to continue to excessively express themselves with prolonged action or offensive language after an ejection,” according to a news release.

Williams was ejected from Thursday’s game and hit with a one-game suspension for violating NCAA Rule 8-7, which prohibits “unnecessary and violent collisions with the catcher at home plate, and with infielders at all bases.”

Friday’s schedule

Rice vs. East Carolina, noon
Charlotte vs. Florida Atlantic, 47 minutes afterward

Eliminated

Both the UAB Blazers and UTSA Roadrunners have lost twice and have been eliminated.

FAU wins 12-5 as UTSA’s season ends at the American Baseball Championship

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The FAU Owls entered Wednesday’s elimination game at the American Baseball Championship without much fanfare.

After all, they lost 16 of 22 games at the end of the regular season and then got hammered 14-2 Tuesday night against the Tulane Green Wave in the opener of the double-elimination tournament.

Faced with the task of bouncing back against the second-seeded UTSA Roadrunners, few gave the Owls much of a chance. FAU players had other ideas.

The tournament’s No. 6 Owls exploded for 18 hits en route to an easy 12-5 victory to end UTSA’s season.

“I’m very proud of the guys,” FAU coach John McCormack said on a zoom call from the tournament site in Clearwater, Fla. “You have your back against the wall against a really good team. They finished second in the league.”

McCormack credited pitcher Trey Beard, a freshman, for showing composure after UTSA took an early 3-1 lead.

“After the third,” McCormack said, “Trey settled down and gave the offense a chance to get moving. We put up that six spot. Took a little pressure off us, and we were able to score some more.

“Good day,” the 16th-year FAU head coach added. “I was happy with the guys. Very proud of ’em.”

For UTSA, it was a tough day. Perhaps the toughest of the season. They took the field without injured Mason Lytle, the Newcomer of the Year in the AAC and the team’s leading hitter. Lytle played in a 9-5, 12-inning loss to Charlotte Tuesday night but couldn’t go against FAU because of a hamstring injury.

UTSA coach Pat Hallmark, whose season ended with a 32-24 record, wasn’t making any excuses.

“We didn’t play very well,” he said. “Yeah, it’s disappointing. (Those are) my thoughts. Florida Atlantic deserved to win. We played better most of the season. It’s a disappointing end. But I’m proud of the team. We had a good year, and I’m going to miss these seniors.”

One day, Hallmark might look back on his fifth year at UTSA with a different perspective. It could be that the Roadrunners overachieved during a 17-10 run through conference, during which it beat East Carolina in a weekend series in San Antonio.

But after making a run for the AAC’s regular-season title though the last weekend and then losing twice in two days at the tournament, he admitted that “it’s a little sour” to leave Florida this way.

“I guess losing is less sour than not playing very well,” he said. “That’s the part that’s sour. But I love these kids. I’m going to miss ’em. Guys like (pitchers) Daniel Garza and Uli Quiroga. Gosh dang it, I wish I had ’em back.”

Paced by Christian Adams, who went 4 for 4 at the plate, the Owls proved to be unstoppable on offense.

Spencer Rich also had three hits, and Brando Leroux, John Schoeder and Jake Millan notched two apiece. Leroux hit a home run, and he joined Rich, Adams and Schroeder with two RBI apiece.

For UTSA, Caleb Hill homered and drove in two runs to highlight a 2 for 5 performance. Hill finished the tournament with five hits.

On the pitching side, Quiroga (8-2) took the loss. He worked the first three innings and yielded six runs, five of them earned, on eight hits.

Records

FAU 27-28
UTSA 32-24

Notable

UTSA reliever Conor Myles was ejected in the eighth inning after he hit FAU batter Christian Adams with a pitch.

Myles threw three pitches, including one that sailed high and behind Adams and all the way to the screen in front of the grandstand. A pitch followed that was high and inside, and then another one that hit Adams in the low back.

Asked about the pitch that hit Adams and the ensuing ejection of Myles, FAU coach John McCormack downplayed it.

“He’s coming in, in a tough situation, and I don’t know how much time he had to warm up,” McCormack said. “A ball got away from him. It happens. I didn’t think anything of it.”

The sequence of events in the eighth followed a seventh-inning incident involving Adams, a base runner, and UTSA second baseman Diego Diaz.

Adams led off with a single. FAU’s Jake Millan followed by hitting a ball into left field. As Adams ran, he approached second base and ran into Diaz, who had his back to the base runner.

The force of the collision resulted in both players falling to the ground. The infield umpire called Diaz for obstruction, McCormack said later.

McCormack said Adams intended to attempt a first-to-third base advance following the hit. He said Adams was looking at the ball in the outfield “and they just collided. I didn’t see it until they were both on the ground (and) then the umpire ruled obstruction, and Christian was able to go to third.

“I didn’t see it,” the coach added. “Looks like it was just a collision, and those things happen.”

With Diaz shaken up on the play, UTSA took him out of the game momentarily to have him checked out by the trainer. He returned during the same inning and played the rest of the game.

Asked about what happened in the incident involving Myles, Hallmark said he didn’t know. Added Hallmark, “He hit him. Probably going fastball in and just missed (on location) a little bit.”

Hallmark said he didn’t see the collision involving Adams and Diaz in the seventh.

“I was looking at the ball and the relay (throw), and when I looked back, Diego was on the ground.,” the UTSA coach said. “Obviously I put two and two together that the kid ran him over. But I was watching the play in the outfield, to see if we picked it up clean and made an accurate throw to the first guy.”

Hallmark said Diaz wanted to stay in the game. But it was determined that he should come out to be examined further by a trainer. “The trainer told me he thought he was fine,” Hallmark said. “So he and I chatted and he seemed totally fine.”

Diaz, a freshman from Pharr and Sharyland High School, finished the game with two hits and a run scored, and he was also charged with two errors.

Early game

Parker Smith pitched into the seventh inning, and Jack Riedel hit two opposite-field home runs as the Rice Owls beat UAB, 9-0, eliminating the Blazers.

With the win, the eighth-seeded Owls bounced back from a tournament-opening 12-4 loss to the East Carolina Pirates. They’ll play again on Friday against either the Wichita State Shockers or the top-seeded Pirates.

Smith gave up six hits in 6 and 2/3 innings, striking out eight and walking two.

Records

UAB 26-29
Rice 23-35

Coming up

On Thursday afternoon, in the winners’ bracket, the Shockers and the Pirates will play the first game, followed by the Charlotte 49ers and the Tulane Green Wave.

American tournament drama: Charlotte surges past UTSA, 9-5, in 12 innings

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

If the UTSA Roadrunners hope to reach the title game in the American Baseball Championship, they’re going to have to go through the losers’ bracket to get there.

Carson Bayne crushed a three-run homer to cap a four-run 12th inning Tuesday night, lifting the Charlotte 49ers past the Roadrunners 9-5 on opening day.

The game was a study in heartbreak for the Roadrunners. Also frustration, as they left 18 runners on base. They fell behind by four runs when the 49ers scored four in the top of the sixth, and then they rallied in the bottom of the eighth with four of their own to tie it.

Second-seeded UTSA seemed to have the game won a few times in extra innings and couldn’t finish off seventh-seeded Charlotte. In both the 10th and the 11th, they loaded the bases with one out and couldn’t score.

In the top of the 12th, the 49ers finally broke through against Daniel Garza.

Thad Ector opened the inning with a single to right field. Noah Furcht followed with a grounder to shortstop for what appeared to be a certain force play at second. But the throw was wild and both runners were safe.

At that point, one of the veterans of Charlotte’s 2023 Conference USA tournament title team came through in the clutch. Brandon Stahlman hit an RBI single to left. Ector scored from second base, racing across home plate to make it 6-5.

Bayne then did his part to put the game out of reach. He re-directed a 1-0 pitch from Garza, sending it over the wall in left for a three-run homer to account for the final runs of the game. It was the fifth hit of the night for Bayne, a 5-11 junior from Jacksonville, Fla.

In the bottom of the 12th, the Roadrunners picked up a couple of hits but left them stranded when 49ers freshman Joseph Taylor struck out Olivo to end the game. For the game, UTSA hit only 4 for 26 with runners on base and only 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position.

As a result, UTSA will play sixth-seeded Florida Atlantic in the losers’ bracket Wednesday. Tulane defeated FAU 14-2 in seven innings on the run rule late Tuesday night.

Despite scoring only once in the first seven innings, the Roadrunners erased a four-run deficit with a spirited four-run rally in the eighth. Caleb Hill led off with a single, and Isaiah Walker and Alexander Olivo followed with RBI doubles to make it 5-3.

Charlotte changed pitchers twice before the end of the inning as UTSA surged. With Tony Rossi on the mound, Diego Diaz walked with the bases loaded to force in one run. Lorenzo Morresi followed with a sacrifice fly to tie it.

With two runners aboard, Rossi fanned UTSA’s Matt King to end the uprising.

Records

Charlotte 24-32
UTSA 32-23

Notable

Earlier in the afternoon, the game turned in a span of about 25 minutes from the bottom of the fifth and the top of the sixth innings. In the fifth, the Roadrunners had a baserunner at first with two of their best hitters at the plate.

First, Mason Lytle smashed a line drive to right field, but Charlotte’s Noah Furcht was in position to make an easy catch. Next, King drilled a ball high and far to center. He didn’t quite get all of it as Reid Haire angled toward the walk and gathered it in to end the inning.

In the sixth, with one out, the 49ers put together a one-out rally against Fischer Kingsbery and Ruger Riojas. The rally started innocently enough, with Brandon Stahlman and Carson Bayne hitting singles in front of the UTSA outfielders.

At that point, Dante DeFranco roped a double to right that scored Stahlman and sent Bayne to third. The Roadrunners thought they had thrown out DeFranco at second, but the umpire’s call was upheld.

UTSA, trailing 2-1, called on Riojas to try to squelch the threat. But Kaden Hopson, one of the returning 49ers’ starters from last year’s Conference USA tournament title team, worked the count to 3-1 before he unloaded with a ball that sailed over the fence in right-center.

The home run boosted the 49ers into a commanding 5-1 lead.

Early games

The top-seeded East Carolina Pirates rallied for 12 runs in the eighth inning and went on to record a 12-4 victory over the No. 8 Rice Owls on opening day of the American Baseball Championship.

Misplays on two Joey Berini fly balls into right field and an infield error on a potential inning-ending double play grounder doomed the Owls in the eighth. Jacob Starling capped the outburst with a two-run homer.

In the tournament opener, fourth-seeded Wichita State downed the mistake-prone No. 5 seed UAB Blazers, 8-2.

Tuesday’s results

Game 1: (4) Wichita State 8, (5) UAB 2
Game 2: (1) East Carolina 12, (8) Rice 4
Game 3: (7) Charlotte 9, (2) UTSA 5, 12 innings
Game 4: (3) Tulane 14, (6) Florida Atlantic 2, 7 innings

Wednesday’s schedule

Game 5: UAB vs. Rice, noon
Game 6: UTSA vs. Florida Atlantic. 47 minutes after Game 5

Thursday’s schedule

Game 7: Wichita State vs. East Carolina, noon
Game 8: Charlotte vs. Tulane, 47 minutes after Game 7

As the postseason dawns, UTSA fans are feeling all the emotions

Caleb Hill. UTSA beat Incarnate Word 13-3 in non-conference baseball on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Caleb Hill and the second-seeded UTSA Roadrunners take on the No. 7 Charlotte 49ers today on opening day of the American Baseball Championship. The tournament runs through Sunday in Clearwater, Fla. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

How does everyone feel this morning? I’m talking about fans of the UTSA Roadrunners. Are you feeling anxious? Optimistic? Pessimistic? I’m here in San Antonio today, sorting it all out for you as the American Baseball Championship gets underway in Florida.

With UTSA this season, it’s understandable if you feel a mix of emotions going into Day 1 of the six-day event in Clearwater. As it happens with the nearby Gulf of Mexico, Roadrunners baseball has experienced its ebbs and flows over the past three months. Low and high tides. Cloudy weather, followed by sunny skies.

I am an optimist at heart, and I do think the Roadrunners have a decent shot of making it to Sunday’s championship game. But let’s start with a few reasons to feel sort of anxious or even pessimistic this morning, just to get those emotions out of the way. There aren’t many reasons to wring your hands. But let’s do it anyway, just to deal with reality.

First, the Charlotte 49ers, I suspect, will supply stiff opposition when the Roadrunners take the field this afternoon for the third of today’s four-game lineup. Their coach, Robert Woodard, has guided his team to NCAA tournaments in 2021 and 2023. He knows how to get it done this time of year.

Woodard and the 49ers, in fact, eliminated the Roadrunners from the Conference USA tournament in Houston last season.

Second, the 49ers have two effective left-handed pitchers that I remember seeing at Roadrunner Field on April 5. Cole Reynolds started and AJ Wilson relieved for the 49ers in the first of a three-game series, and it was a tough night for the home fans. Lefties tend to do well against the Roadrunners, and these two presented problems that night. In part because of the pitching of these two guys, and also because a couple of freshmen who jumped up and played well, Charlotte won, 10-5.

In this double-elimination format through the semifinals, you don’t want to lose the opener. You don’t want to get behind the proverbial eight-ball right off the jump. For the Roadrunners to heighten their hopes of making a long and successful run, they’ll need to play well against the 49ers, no matter who is on the mound.

Because, if they lose, it gets really hard. A losers’ bracket game would be played on Wednesday.

Then again, I’m not counting out the Roadrunners even if they lose today. No way. This team has impressed me from opening day with its steady resolve. Part of that resolve stems from players spending so much time around fifth-year Coach Pat Hallmark and assistants Zach Butler and Ryan Aguayo.

But I think most of it is the players and how they approach the game. Take Ulises Quiroga, for instance. Quiroga wasn’t healthy in February as the season opened. But he was determined to have a good season, and he did.

I suspect Quiroga will be on the mound for the Roadrunners today, so that is one good reason to be hopeful. The senior from Baytown had a great year, fashioned an 8-1 record with a 3.59 earned run average and made first-team all conference.

Ideally, for the Roadrunners, they take an early lead and then start to grind down the 49ers. Keep the lead and then turn it over to a bullpen that has been good for most of the season, especially Ruger Riojas, only one of two pitchers in the nation with as many as 10 victories and seven saves.

Riojas, surely, will be a highly motivated player this week. On Monday, the AAC announced its postseason honors. One reliever, East Carolina’s Wyatt Lunsford-Shenkman, made the first team. Riojas was second team.

I’m sure that Lunsford-Shenkman, with a 1.20 earned run average and a .218 batting average against, would have felt the same way if he had been second team. But Riojas had as much to do with his team’s success as any player in the conference this season, and I suspect he will be out to make a point this week.

Quiroga and Riojas, you have to think, will be motivated and determined. Combined with their skill, I believe it gives UTSA a fighting chance to make it to Sunday.

Offensively, the Roadrunners had some issues down the stretch of the regular season. They hit around .255 as a team during a spell of four losses in seven games from late April through early May. But they will come into the tournament with the likes of Mason Lytle, Alexander Olivo and Matt King — all first-team, all conference — all of them hitting well north of .300.

They’ve also got players with first-team ability who didn’t make it. Caleb Hill is one of them. If Hill can get hot, the Roadrunners should be able to do damage and score some runs. Also, keep an eye on Diego Diaz. He’s another X-factor, type player. A member of the conference’s all freshman team.

Like I say, I think the Roadrunners have enough good players to win some games early this week. If they win today, they’ll play either Tulane or Florida Atlantic on Thursday. Based on past results — sweeping to three wins at Tulane earlier this year and beating FAU two of three last weekend — they should be OK in Game 2, as well.

As for their chances beyond that, a lot will depend on pitching depth. As everyone knows, the Roadrunners have had some struggles in that area over the past month or so. Freshman Rob Orloski, their Friday night starter in March, is working his way back into form after enduring a tough month of April.

To win a title this week, they’ll need him, along with Zach Royse and Fischer Kingsbery and Braylon Owens and Daniel Garza and Ryan Beaird and all the others to dial up A-game performances. They’ll need the defense to lock down and make the plays, as well.

Oh, and I almost forgot. They’ll need some intangibles, for sure.

Momentum. Good fortune. More momentum. A few more good breaks … They haven’t had a full week of that type of thing since 2013, when they swept through the Western Athletic Conference tournament in Grand Prairie all the way to an NCAA Regional in Corvallis, Ore.

So, hey, maybe it’s been so long, they are due. Maybe the stars will align and the tide will come in for them this week. I guess we will soon find out.

American Baseball Championship

Tuesday, May 21
Game 1: No. 5 UAB vs. No. 4 Wichita State | 8 a.m. | ESPN+
Game 2: No. 8 Rice vs. No. 1 East Carolina | 47 minutes after Game 1 | ESPN+
Game 3: No. 7 Charlotte vs. No. 2 UTSA | 3 p.m. | ESPN+
Game 4: No. 6 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 3 Tulane | 47 minutes after Game 3 | ESPN+

Wednesday, May 22
Game 5: Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2 | noon | ESPN+
Game 6: Loser of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4 | 47 minutes after Game 5 | ESPN+

Thursday, May 23
Game 7: Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2 | noon| ESPN+
Game 8: Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4 | 47 minutes after Game 7 | ESPN+

Friday, May 24
Game 9: Loser of Game 7 vs. Winner of Game 5 | noon | ESPN+
Game 10: Loser of Game 8 vs. Winner of Game 6 | 47 minutes after Game 9 | ESPN+

Saturday, May 25
Game 11: Winner of Game 7 vs. Winner of Game 9 | 8 a.m. | ESPN+
Game 12: Winner of Game 8 vs. Winner of Game 10 | 47 minutes after Game 11 | ESPN+
Game 13: Loser of Game 11 vs. Winner of Game 11 | TBD (if necessary) | ESPN+
Game 14: Loser of Game 12 vs. Winner of Game 12 | TBD (if necessary) | ESPN+

Sunday, May 26
Game 15: Semifinal Winners | 11 a.m. | ESPNEWS

Postseason honors: UTSA lands four on AAC first team

Four baseball players from the UTSA Roadrunners have been named all-conference first team in the American Athletic Conference, according to a news release.

The four included centerfielder Mason Lytle, who was also named as the AAC’s Newcomer Position Player of the Year. The others were pitcher Ulises Quiroga, shortstop Matt King and designated hitter Alexander Olivo.

Landing on the second team were a pair of UTSA players in relief pitching ace Ruger Riojas and leftfielder Caleb Hill. All-Freshman honors went to UTSA’s Robert Orloski and second baseman Diego Diaz.

The postseason honors were announced in a release on Monday afternoon. UTSA is set to play the Charlotte 49ers Tuesday at 3 p.m. in Clearwater, Fla., on opening day of the six-day American Baseball Championship, a tournament consisting of the top eight teams in the AAC.

AAC Baseball Honors

Player of the Year – Carter Cunningham, Sr., 1B, East Carolina

Pitcher of the Year – Trey Yesavage, Jr., East Carolina*

Newcomer Position Player of the Year – Mason Lytle, Jr., OF, UTSA

Newcomer Pitcher of the Year – Tommy LaPour, Fr., Wichita State

Defensive Player of the Year – Ryley Johnson, Jr., OF, East Carolina

Coach of the Year – Cliff Godwin, East Carolina

First-team all conference

P – Blayze Berry, Sr., UAB*
P – Trey Yesavage, Jr., East Carolina*
P – Ulises Quiroga, Sr., UTSA
P – Caden Favors, Sr., Wichita State
RP – Wyatt Lunsford-Shenkman, Jr., East Carolina
C – Justin Wilcoxen, Sr., East Carolina
1B – Carter Cunningham, Sr., East Carolina*
2B – Bobby Boser, Jr., South Florida
SS – Matt King, Jr., UTSA
3B – Gavin Schulz, Jr., Tulane
OF – Jacob Jenkins-Cowart, Jr., East Carolina
OF – Ryley Johnson, Jr., East Carolina
OF – Mason Lytle, Jr., UTSA
DH – Alexander Olivo, Sr., UTSA
UTL – Ben Rozenblum, R-Sr., South Florida

All-Conference Second Team

P – Colin Daniel, So., UAB
P – Danny Beal, Sr., East Carolina
P – C.J. Williams, Sr., Florida Atlantic
P – Tommy LaPour, Fr., Wichita State
RP – Ruger Riojas, So., UTSA
C – Colin Tuft, Jr., Tulane
1B – Brady Marget, Jr., Tulane
2B – Connor Rasmussen, So., Tulane
SS – Gavin Lewis Jr, Jr., UAB
3B – Camden Johnson, Fr., Wichita State
OF – Caleb Hill, Sr., UTSA
OF – Derek Williams, Jr., Wichita State
OF – Logan Braunschweig, Jr., UAB
DH – Ryan McCrystal, Jr., East Carolina
UTL – Michael Lombardi, So., Tulane

All-Freshman Team – Bristol Carter, OF, East Carolina; Ethan Norby, P, East Carolina*; Trey Beard, P, Florida Atlantic; Emilio Gonzalez, INF, Florida Atlantic; Diego Diaz, 2B, UTSA;
Robert Orloski, P, UTSA; Tyler Dobbs, P, Wichita State; Lane Haworth, OF, Wichita State; Camden Johnson, INF, Wichita State; Tommy LaPour, P, Wichita State*

* – Denotes unanimous selection

UTSA draws Charlotte in opening round of AAC tournament

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The second-seeded UTSA Roadrunners will face the No. 7 Charlotte 49ers in the opening round of the American Baseball Championship on Tuesday at 3 p.m. in Clearwater, Fla.

The postseason tournament for teams from the American Athletic Conference will run from Tuesday through Sunday, May 26, at the BayCare Ballpark in Clearwater.

It’s a double-elimination format through the semifinals, with a winner-take-all championship set for May 26. The winner earns the AAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Top-seeded East Carolina likely is the only team in the eight-team field that could reach the NCAAs without winning the AAC tournament. The Pirates have won 40 games and have been ranked in the Top 25 all year.

For the Roadrunners to be successful, they must stay away from an opening-day loss against Charlotte. A loss would send them into a losers’ bracket game on Wednesday.

If they can beat the 49ers, they get a day off before they play again on Thursday against either third-seeded Tulane or No. 6 Florida Atlantic.

Should the top two seeds make the finals, it would be a single-game rematch of UTSA’s opening-weekend series victory over East Carolina in San Antonio.

UTSA and Tulane are the only two AAC teams in the field to win a series against East Carolina this season.

The Roadrunners have been playing well over the past eight days. They won two of three at home from South Florida. They won 13-3 at home last Tuesday against Incarnate Word in non conference. Finally, they won two of three at Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton.

They beat the Owls 14-1 (on the run rule, in 8 innings) on Thursday and 3-2 (in 10 innings) on Friday before giving up two late runs to fall in Saturday afternoon’s finale, 6-4.

American Baseball Championship

Tuesday, May 21
Game 1: No. 5 UAB vs. No. 4 Wichita State | 8 a.m. | ESPN+
Game 2: No. 8 Rice vs. No. 1 East Carolina | 47 minutes after Game 1 | ESPN+
Game 3: No. 7 Charlotte vs. No. 2 UTSA | 3 p.m. | ESPN+
Game 4: No. 6 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 3 Tulane | 47 minutes after Game 3 | ESPN+

Wednesday, May 22
Game 5: Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2 | noon | ESPN+
Game 6: Loser of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4 | 47 minutes after Game 5 | ESPN+

Thursday, May 23
Game 7: Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2 | noon| ESPN+
Game 8: Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4 | 47 minutes after Game 7 | ESPN+

Friday, May 24
Game 9: Loser of Game 7 vs. Winner of Game 5 | noon | ESPN+
Game 10: Loser of Game 8 vs. Winner of Game 6 | 47 minutes after Game 9 | ESPN+

Saturday, May 25
Game 11: Winner of Game 7 vs. Winner of Game 9 | 8 a.m. | ESPN+
Game 12: Winner of Game 8 vs. Winner of Game 10 | 47 minutes after Game 11 | ESPN+
Game 13: Loser of Game 11 vs. Winner of Game 11 | TBD (if necessary) | ESPN+
Game 14: Loser of Game 12 vs. Winner of Game 12 | TBD (if necessary) | ESPN+

Sunday, May 26
Game 15: Semifinal Winners | 11 a.m. | ESPNEWS

Teams at a glance

1) East Carolina – The Pirates (19-8, 40-13) entered the final weekend on a five-game losing streak before winning three in a row at home against the Rice Owls to nail down their fifth straight AAC regular-season title.

2) UTSA – The Roadrunners (17-10, 32-22) won consecutive weekend series against South Florida at home and against FAU on the road to give them seven series wins out of nine in their inaugural AAC campaign.

3) Tulane – The Green Wave (15-12, 31-24) will enter the tournament as one of the hottest teams, having won five of their last six games, including three straight at home from May 10-12 against East Carolina.

4) Wichita State – The Shockers (15-12, 29-27) were slumping badly coming into San Antonio in May. At Roadrunner Field, they started a string of three straight AAC series wins against UTSA, Charlotte and Memphis, respectively. They took two of three games at UTSA en route to a 7-2 finish.

5) UAB – The Blazers (13-14, 26-27) won two of three against South Florida in Tampa over the weekend, so they will have an easy commute to the tournament ballpark in nearby Clearwater. UAB can be dangerous. The Blazers won Friday night games against both UTSA and Tulane.

6) Florida Atlantic – The Owls (12-15, 26-27) seemed a bit anemic offensively against the Roadrunners on Thursday and Friday but came alive late in the final game on Saturday to win the series finale.

7) Charlotte – The 49ers (12-15, 23-32) are in a funk. They’ve lost seven of their last eight, including two of three at home this weekend against the Tulane Green Wave. Coach Rob Woodard can be a difference-maker in the postseason. Even though this team is down, his 49ers squads have made NCAA tournaments in two of the past three seasons.

8) Rice – The Owls (11-16, 22-34) will open the tournament against East Carolina. Not a great draw for Coach Jose Cruz’s team given that it was swept by the Pirates over the weekend in Greenville, N.C.