You might have gone on spring break somewhere warm, sipping on a fruity beverage, but there were no days off for AAC baseball (okay, maybe a couple), as they finished up their non-conference slate this past weekend. Here’s what you need to know from then, and what you should look forward to in the week ahead.
Three things to know from spring break:
1. ECU improved to 18th in the country following a dominant sweep of Maryland, outscoring the Terps a combined 26 runs to four.
ECU’s pitching shut down Maryland in game one, as ace Trey Benton and left-hander Ryan Ross combined to fan 12 Terrapins. Maryland actually outhit the Pirates 10-5, but a timely single from DH Bryant Packard and a home run from shortstop Turner Brown lifted ECU in game one.
The ECU offense went supernova on Saturday, smacking Maryland 18-4 to take the series. Starter Chris Holba stayed undefeated at 5-0 on the year, going five innings allowing just two runs, but didn’t have to worry about his offense stepping up whatsoever.
The Pirates recorded 11 hits, five of them (all singles) by Brady Lloyd. Freshman pinch hitter Bryson Worrell and center fielder Andrew Hendrickson each contributed three RBI to the cause with a combined two singles and a double.
ECU didn’t let up in the final game of the series either, shutting out Maryland again 4-0 in a mirror image of Friday. Reliever Ryan Ross was phenomenal once again, going 3.1 innings allowing zero hits and striking out four on the way to his second save of the season.
2. UCF had their nation’s longest winning streak snapped midweek against the Hurricanes, but started a new one over the weekend by whupping Chicago State in a sweep.
UCF’s 13-game winning streak came to an end last Wednesday at the hands of Miami. The Knights and the Hurricanes traded runs through the first four innings, but Miami went ahead in the sixth with an RBI fielder’s choice from catcher Isaac Quinones.
UCF bounced back in a big way last weekend in their series against perennial WAC basement-dwellers Chicago State.
The Knights took the first game 10-0 behind an 11-hit offensive onslaught led by All-Conference second-baseman Mika Matthew, who went 3-4 with three RBI, including a double and a homer.
The second game brought more of the same for UCF, blasting five homers in a 20-1 route. The UCF lineup matched a season-high 16 hits and the pitching staff combined to complete a one-hitter. Tyler Osik was the star of the show for UCF mashing two homers in three at-bats, driving in five runs.
UCF easily handled Chicago State for a third time on Sunday, beating the Cougars 8-0 to earn the sweep.
3. USF continued their own impressive streak over the break, winning eight in a row by sweeping Army.
The Bulls made program history Friday night, as sophomores Shane McClanahan and Carson Ragsdale combined to pitch the first no-hitter in program history, fanning a ridiculous 22 Cadets in a 12-0 victory.
USF put the game out of reach early with a six-run first inning off two singles and a triple from Garrett Zech, who had a career game going 3-4 and driving in three runs, tacking on a homer in the seventh.
The Bulls kept their no-hitter going through the sixth inning on Saturday, fending off a late comeback from the Black Knights to win their seventh straight behind an impressive start from Peter Strzelecki, who struck out 11 cadets to earn his third win of the year.
The third game of the series brought a little more drama for USF. The Bulls found themselves trailing 3-4 after four innings but battled back to tie it up in the seventh, as Chris Chatfield took advantage of an Army error to score from second. In the bottom of the ninth, junior Garrett Zech brought the late-game heroics, slapping a walk-off single to left field to give USF the series sweep.
Three things to look forward to
1. Finally, the start of conference play! Two of the hottest programs in the country will face off this weekend as ECU takes on UCF, with game one on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
2. Conference favorite Houston will look to get back on track after an underwhelming non-conference slate against a struggling Memphis, who have lost seven of their last ten games. Game one will take place in Houston at 7:30 on Friday.
3. Two exciting midweek games will take place tonight, as UCF travels to Tallahassee to take on 7th-ranked Florida State at 4:00 p.m. and Tulane heads to Alex Box Stadium to face No. 19 LSU at 7:30.
Luke Swanson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.