Around the American: Wichita State finally goes down, UCF cruises

Tulane's Tyler Heinrichs (31) is unable to catch the ball on a sliding attempt during an NCAA college baseball game against Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (Bruce Newman, Oxford Eagle via AP)

Three things to know from last week:

1. Wichita State (8-1) picked up their first loss on the season this Saturday but still took the weekend series from Nebraska two games to one.

The Shockers took the first two games of the series behind the powerful bats of Mason O’Brien and All-American Alex Bohm, who beat the Huskers into submission with a grand slam apiece in the series opener 9-1. Bohm homered again in the second game of the series and freshman center fielder Greyson Jenista tacked on another, going 2-3 with three RBI in the 6-3 win.

Wichita State finally went down with the series already in hand on Sunday, sunk by a five-run top of the fifth in which Nebraska came storming back from a 7-2 deficit. The Shockers struck back in the sixth to take the lead, but the Huskers closed them out in the ninth to get the 10-9 win.

2. UCF (8-3) stayed hot with a sweep of Wagner, extending their winning streak to seven games.

The Knights were down one in the bottom of the ninth when shortstop Brandon Hernandez started the rally with a single up the middle. AAC preseason player of the year Rylan Thomas then finished the job, lifting UCF to a Game One victory with a three-run blast to walk off the Seahawks 6-3.

Game two was a similar story, as UCF once again had to come from behind to take the eventual 10-8 win. The Knights found themselves 8-2 going into the  bottom of the eighth. Then, the offense exploded. Singles from Hernandez, Jackson Webb, Ray Alejo and Dallas Beaver, a double from Matthew Mika, a pair of walks and a wild pitch made up a nutty eight-run eighth inning in which UCF took the lead.

After two days of coming from behind, the Knights decided that they’d had enough and trounced the Seahawks 12-0. Thomas had himself another great night, going 3-5 with two singles and a three-run homer. Hernandez had a great night as well, going 2-3 and driving in two runs.

3. Preseason favorite Houston (5-5) had a rough go of it this weekend, getting swept by SEC powers Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Mississippi State.

No. 6 Kentucky’s big bats lead the SEC with a .607 SLG percent, and they took Houston for a ride in their first game of the weekend, beating them 14-0. The Cats hung 14 on the Cougars by way of 12 hits and four home runs including a two-run blast to open up the scoring from left fielder Luke Heyer, who won SEC Player of the Week for his blazing performance over the weekend.

Game two was a much closer contest for Houston, taking 21st-ranked Mississippi State to extra innings, but they eventually fell to the Bulldogs 3-2 in extras.

The ending of this game was especially heartbreaking for the Cougars. In the bottom of the 12th, Mississippi State leadoff man Tanner Poole struck out but reached first on a wild pitch. Poole stole second, reached third on a groundout then scored on a sacrifice fly. Houston ended up losing on a walk-off without allowing a hit in the inning.

Houston finished off the weekend on Sunday with a 9-4 loss to No. 15 Vanderbilt. The Commodores jumped on Houston early, scoring all nine of their runs in the first three innings. Starting pitcher Ryan Randel was yanked after 1.2 innings having given up seven runs, including a two-run homer in the first inning and a bases-clearing double after back-to-back walks in the second.

Three things to look forward to this week:

1. Tulane (6-5) has had a surprisingly good season so far, and they’ll look to make a statement hosting 8-2 Purdue for a weekend series after facing New Orleans and Southeastern Louisiana in midweek action.

2. Houston will look to bounce back from their rough weekend with midweek games against mid-major stalwarts Houston Baptist and McNeese State before a weekend challenge against West Coast Conference favorites San Diego.

3. Cincinnati (6-5) got the series sweep against UT-Martin this weekend but will have a much larger challenge this upcoming week as they play No. 17 Indiana on Wednesday before heading to Knoxville, to take on SEC opponent Tennessee.

Luke Swanson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus.  He can be reached via email at