It’s appropriate that a mini heat wave is sweeping through our part of the country, serving as a reminder that baseball season in the American started just this weekend. The rest of the American joined the Huskies on the road to Omaha as the conference went 18-8 overall to kick off the season.
Preseason conference favorite Houston had a rocky start to their weekend, losing a tough one to Holy Cross on Friday with a score of 3-2. Houston pitcher Trey Cumbie struck out a career-high 12 batters and allowed just three hits through 5.1 innings of pitches, but it wasn’t enough to knock off the Crusaders. The Cougars bounced back in Game Two, however, spanking Holy Cross with a score of 7-1 and getting the series win the next day in extra innings.
ECU got the big sweep over regional rival Western Carolina, outscoring the Catamounts by a 27-8 margin over the weekend. Freshman first baseman Spencer Brickhouse lived up to his name in his debut with the Pirates, going 3-5 with three RBI in the series opener then turning right around and mashing a three-run homer in Game Two to power ECU to victory.
Wichita State made a good first impression in their tournament debut, sweeping McNeese State in their own barn on opening weekend. All-American third baseman Alex Bohm lifted the Shockers with a grand slam in an opener that was suspended due to fog in the ninth inning. Wichita State’s offense came alive again in Game Two, beating the Cowboys 11-2. The Shockers closed the series out on Sunday in a considerably closer game, beating McNeese 11-10.
Tulane played host to Wright State for opening weekend, sweeping the Raiders in a deceptively close series. Game One was tied 3-3 until the seventh inning when second baseman Jon Artigues scored the go-ahead run and the Green Wave needed extra innings to get the win. Catcher Casey Owen mashed the walk-off double in the 10th. Tulane thoroughly beat Wright State 11-5 in the closing game of the series with five of those courtesy of DH Matt Rowland.
Cincinnati played well out on the West Coast, going 2-1 in their opening weekend. The Bearcats opened 2018 with a solid win over Cal 3-1 then followed it up on Sunday by splitting a doubleheader with San Diego on Sunday. Outfielder Treg Haberkorn scored the go-ahead runs in the 10th inning to earn Cincinnati the 10-7 win in the first game, but the Bearcats surrendered a walkoff home run in the bottom of the ninth in Game Two as they fell 4-3.
South Florida had a respectable showing against sixth-ranked North Carolina in Tampa, taking the first game of the series behind ace lefty Shane McLanahan, who struck out 11 and allowed just three hits. North Carolina came roaring back in Game Two, however, routing the Bulls 12-5 on 14 hits. USF fought back in the rubber match on Sunday, taking the Tar Heel to extras before falling 9-8 in a walkoff.
Elsewhere in the conference, Memphis took two out of three from Western Kentucky and UCF beat Virginia 6-3 on opening day before falling to Rice and Samford later in the weekend.
Luke Swanson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.