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.


Wichita State 32-29
Tulane 35-24


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.

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


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


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

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.


Charlotte 24-32
UTSA 32-23


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