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Pirates to host C-USA Tournament

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — The East Carolina Pirates will have home field advantage for the Conference USA Tournament.
The tournament will begin Wednesday and culminate in Sunday’s championship game. Each game will be held at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
The Pirates (36-20, 14-9) locked up the second seed in the tournament thanks to a 10-2 win over UAB in Saturday’s regular-season finale. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for ECU.
Coach Billy Godwin’s club, which is 28-11 at Clark-LeClair Stadium, will play the late game on Wednesday, tangling with No. 7 seed Tulane at 7:30 p.m. The Green Wave (32-24, 9-15) took two of three games from the Pirates in action earlier this season.
No. 4 seed Houston (28-26, 12-12) and No. 5 seed Memphis (33-23, 12-12) will open tournament play at 9 a.m.
That game will be followed by No. 1 seed Rice (45-11, 22-2) against No. 8 seed UCF (26-30, 7-17) at 12:30 p.m.
No. 3 seed Southern Miss (37-19, 14-10) and No. 6 seed UAB (25-31, 12-12) will meet at 4 p.m.
ECU and Tulane will close out the first day of the tournament with their 7:30 p.m. contest.
If the Pirates win, they will play the Southern Miss-UAB winner Thursday at 7:30 p.m. An ECU loss will push them into the loser’s bracket against the Southern Miss-UAB loser at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
The Pirates dropped two of three games from both Southern Miss and UAB during the regular season.
Freshman Kyle Roller, who is tied for the team-lead with 10 homers and a .329 batting average, is looking forward to his first conference tournament.
C-USA STANDINGS
The Pirates finished second in the standings this season with a 14-9 conference record, their second best showing in six seasons in C-USA. ECU is 36-20 overall.
ECU finished sixth in the C-USA standings last year with a 10-14 mark, going 33-26 overall in Godwin’s first year as the Pirate skipper.
The Pirates finished fourth in 2005 (35-26 overall, 18-12 C-USA), first in 2004 (51-13 overall, 25-5 C-USA), fifth in 2003 (34-27-1 overall, 17-13 C-USA) and sixth in 2002 (43-20-1 overall, 16-13-1 C-USA).
C-USA TOURNEY PLAY
The Pirates are 9-8 in five previous C-USA tournaments.
ECU won the C-USA tournament championship in 2002 as a sixth seed.
The Pirates won their first-round games in each of the last three seasons, only to get knocked out with two straight losses in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
BUILDING THE NCAA TOURNEY RESUME
Godwin is looking to add to the team’s resume with hopes of playing in the NCAA Tournament.
DEALING WITH A BUG
A handful of Pirates are battling illness this week. Shortstop Ryan Wood, closer Shane Mathews and starting pitcher Dustin Sasser missed Monday’s practice because of illness.
DALE ON THE MEND
Dale Mollenhauer, who is tied for the team-lead with a .329 batting average, fielded grounders during Monday’s practice.
The junior shortstop has been out with a broken bone in his hand. Godwin said Mollenhauer may see some spot duty during the tournament.
ECU PIRATES
No. 2 seed
36-20 overall; 14-9 C-USA
The Pirates earned the second seed with a 10-2 win over UAB in the regular season finale, snapping a three-game losing streak.
ECU is 28-11 at Clark-LeClair Stadium. The Pirates won 14 straight and 18 of 19 during a 20-game homestand.
Stephen Batts extended his hitting streak to 22 games, the third longest in school history, in the victory.
ECU is hitting .288 with 62 homers and 322 RBIs.
Top hitters for the Pirates are Kyle Roller (.329, 10 homers, 29 RBIs), Dale Mollenhauer (.329, three homers, 26 RBIs), Batts (.314, five homers, 47 RBIs, 11 steals), Ryan Wood (.314, five homers, 22 RBIs, 13 steals), Ryan Tousley (.308, 10 homers, 48 RBIs, 10 steals), Harrison Eldridge (.300, five homers, 23 RBIs, 12 steals) and Drew Schieber (.298, five homers, 18 RBIs, 11 steals).
ECU has a 3.83 team ERA.
Top pitchers for ECU are Hose (6-5, 3.61 ERA), Dustin Sasser (5-4, 3.59 ERA), Josh Dowdy (4-1, 2.83 ERA), Shane Mathews (3-3, 12 saves, 3.64 ERA) and Jason Neitz (4-2, 2.84 ERA).
RICE OWLS
No. 1 seed
45-11 overall, 22-2 C-USA
The No. 2 Owls, the regular season C-USA champions for the second straight year, will look to win their second consecutive C-USA tournament title.
Rice is led by junior pitcher/first baseman Joe Savery, one of 16 semifinalists for the 2007 Dick Howser Trophy, given to the nation’s top collegiate baseball player.
The Owls enter the tournament on an 18-game winning streak, while also being victorious in 26 of their last 27 contests.
Rice is hitting .306 as a team with 42 homers and 355 RBIs.
Top hitters for the Owls are Savery (.356, three homers, 45 RBIs), J.P. Pardon (.350), Jared Gayhart (.349, two homers, 31 RBIs), Brian Friday (.341, three homers, 24 RBIs, 12 steals), Jess Buenger (.313, five homers, 37 RBIs), Aaron Luna (.313, eight homers, 47 RBIs), Diego Seastrunk (.301, one homer, 33 RBIs), Tyler Henley (.298, five homers, 26 RBIs) and Jordan Dodson (.285, seven homers, 44 RBIs).
The Owls have a 2.70 team ERA. Six different pitchers have combined for 16 saves.
Top pitchers for Rice are Ryne Tacker (9-1, three saves, 2.41 ERA), Savery (8-1, 2.41 ERA), Ryan Berry (9-2, 2.45 ERA, 93 strikeouts in 95 2/3 innings), Matt Lang well (5-1, 2.15 ERA), Cole St. Clair (0-0, five saves, 1.93 ERA) and Bobby Bramhall (5-2, five saves, 2.31 ERA).
SOUTHERN MISS GOLDEN EAGLES
No. 3 seed
37-19 overall, 14-10 C-USA
The Golden Eagles are on a 10-game winning streak as they enter C-USA tournament play, which includes a three-game sweep of Houston.
The Eagles are hitting .288 with 40 homers and 293 RBIs.
Top hitters for the Eagles are Trey Sutton (.370, seven homers, 37 RBIs, 12 steals), Brian Dozier (.345, three homers, 25 RBIs), Keith Winstead (.333), Jody Blount (.319, five homers, 32 RBIs), Luke Adkins (.293, two homers, 26 RBIs), Michael Ewing (.288, six homers, 45 RBIs) and Trey Cuevas (.264, 10 homers, 34 RBIs).
Southern Miss has a 3.74 team ERA.
Top pitchers for Southern Miss are Ryan Belanger (7-4, 2.37 ERA), Barry Bowden (7-3, 3.42 ERA), David Clark (8-4, 4.46 ERA) and Patrick Ezell (3-2, eight saves, 1.08 ERA).
HOUSTON COUGARS
No. 4 seed
28-26 overall, 12-12 C-USA
The Cougars enter the tournament on a bit of a slide as they were swept by Southern Miss to close out regular season play. Houston has dropped seven of its last 10 games.
The Cougars are hitting .287 with 37 homers and 305 RBIs.
Top hitters for the Cougars are Jimmy Cesario (.358, three homers, 34 RBIs), Josh Stirneman (.324, seven homers, 40 RBIs), Zak Presley (.307, two homers, 28 RBIs, 12 steals), Felix Fanaselle (.301, three homers, 26 RBIs), Ryan Lormand (.297, three homers, 38 RBIs, 23 steals), Dustin Kingsbury (.278, three homers, 47 RBIs) and Luis Flores (.272, nine homers, 24 RBIs).
Houston has a 5.28 team ERA.
Top pitchers for Houston are Wes Musick (6-4, 3.18 ERA), Aaron Brown (6-5, 4.59 ERA) and John Touchton (5-6, 7.04 ERA).
MEMPHIS TIGERS
No. 5 seed
33-23 overall, 12-12 C-USA
The Tigers are coming off a sweep at the hands of C-USA regular-season champion Rice. Memphis has lost five of its last seven games. However, the Tigers’ 33 victories are the most in regular season play since 1994.
The Tigers are hitting .299 with 51 homers and 347 RBIs.
Top hitters for Memphis are Michael Murray (.391, three homers, 29 RBIs), Adam Amar (.346, three homers, 37 RBIs), Tyler Huelsing (.328), Bill Moss (.327, 12 homers, 49 RBIs), Josh Irvin (.311, three homers, 36 RBIs), Joey Lieberman (.288, 12 homers, 52 RBIs), K.K. Chalmers (.284, seven homers, 36 RBIs, 30 steals) and Kyle Norrid (.277, five homers, 26 RBIs).
Memphis has a 5.57 team ERA.
Top pitchers for Memphis are Dusty Davis (7-2, 4.25 ERA), Scott McGregor (5-3, 6.43 ERA), Ben Grisham (3-3, 5.95 ERA) and Matt Yokley (4-2, eight saves, 2.61 ERA).
UAB BLAZERS
No. 6 seed
25-31 overall, 12-12 C-USA
The Blazers fell 10-2 to East Carolina in the final game of the regular season, but had won their previous five games.
UAB is hitting .297 with 23 homers and 324 RBIs.
Top hitters for the Blazers are J.R. Bond (.355, four homers, 44 RBIs), Phil Bell (.342, three homers, 36 RBIs, 16 steals), Ryne Lovdahl (.338, five homers, 47 RBIs), Ryan Keedy (.330, four homers, 31 RBIs), Levi Patmon (.303), Jonathan Merritt (.302, two homers, 31 RBIs, 13 steals), Danny Sawyer (.295, one homer, 31 RBIs) and Brint Hardy (.262, 18 steals).
UAB has a 5.13 team ERA.
Top pitchers for UAB are Mitch Kloskowski (5-5, 3.92 ERA), Shay Crawford (4-4, 5.86 ERA), Grant Addison (3-1, 2.47 ERA) and Brandon Wallace (2-3, four saves, 4.29 ERA).
TULANE GREEN WAVE
No. 7 seed
32-24 overall, 9-15 C-USA
The Green Wave won its final two games of the regular season after having dropped its previous four. Tulane lost 13 of its last 17 games.
Tulane is hitting .286 with 30 homers and 280 RBIs.
Top hitters for the Green Wave are Ty Wallace (.351), Tim Guidry (.324, four homers, 36 RBIs), Brad Emaus (.320, four homers, 33 RBIs), Cat Everett (.310, 30 RBIs) and Warren McFadden (.300, four homers, 34 RBIs).
Tulane has a 3.91 team ERA.
Top pitchers for Tulane are Shooter Hunt (6-5, 2.44 ERA), Sean Morgan (7-04, 4.03 ERA), Matt Goebel (8-2, 5.14 ERA), Brandon Gomes (6-6, 4.13 ERA) and Daniel Latham (2-5, 10 saves, 3.71 ERA).
UCF KNIGHTS
No. 8 seed
26-30 overall, 7-17 C-USA
The Knights secured the eighth and final tournament spot by taking two of three games from Marshall. UCF dropped six of its last 10 games.
UCF is hitting .286 with 24 homers and 259 RBIs.
Top hitters for the Knights are Kiko Vazquez (.366, nine homers, 54 RBIs), Tyson Auer (.351, 30 RBIs, 24 steals), Matt Horwath (.341), Ryan Richardson (.314, 17 RBIs, 12 steals) and Chris Duffy (.295, eight homers, 34 RBIs).
UCF has a 5.37 team ERA.
Top pitchers for the Knights are Jaager Good (4-5, 4.22 ERA), Kyle Sweat (4-4, 5.01 ERA), Brian Brooks (4-1, 2.53 ERA) and Justin Weiss (4-1, eight saves, 1.47 ERA).
Pirates’ C-USA Tournament history
Houston, Texas
ECU beat Tulane, 4-2
ECU lost to Houston, 7-1
ECU lost to Tulane, 2-1 (10 innings)
* – Rice won regular season and tournament championships.
Hattiesburg, Miss.
ECU beat Houston, 6-5
ECU lost to Tulane, 16-3
ECU lost to Houston, 6-4
* – Tulane won regular season championship; Tulane and TCU were tournament co-champions.
Houston, Texas
ECU beat Louisville, 13-2
ECU lost to Houston, 6-5
ECU lost to TCU, 10-4
* – ECU won regular season championship; TCU won conference tournament.
New Orleans
ECU lost to Houston, 5-1
ECU beat Charlotte 8-5
ECU beat Houston, 5-0
ECU lost to Southern Miss 3-1
* – Southern Miss won regular season and tournament championships.
Kinston
ECU beat TCU, 6-1
ECU beat USF, 12-10
ECU beat USF, 3-2
ECU beat Houston, 4-0
* – ECU won tournament championship; Houston won regular season championship.
CONFERENCE USA
Team Conf. All
Rice 22-2 45-11
East Carolina 14-9 36-20
Southern Miss 14-10 37-19
Houston 12-12 28-26
Memphis 12-12 33-23
UAB 12-12 25-31
Tulane 9-15 32-24
UCF 7-17 26-30
Marshall 5-18 21-32
2007 C-USA Tournament
Clark-LeClair Stadium
Greenville
Wednesday’s Games
Game 1 – 9 a.m. – (5) Houston vs. (4) Memphis
Game 2 – 12:30 p.m. – (8) UCF vs. (1) Rice
Game 3 – 4 p.m. – (3) Southern Miss vs. (6) UAB
Game 4 – 7:30 p.m. – (7) Tulane vs. (2) East Carolina
Thursday’s Games
Game 5 – 9 a.m. – Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser
Game 6 – 12:30 p.m. – Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser
Game 7 – 4 p.m. – Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner
Game 8 – 7:30 p.m. – Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner
Friday’s Games
Game 9 – 3 p.m. – Game 5 winner vs. Game 7 loser
Game 10 – 6:30 p.m. – Game 6 winner vs. Game 8 loser
Saturday’s Games
Game 11 – 9 a.m. – Game 7 winner vs. Game 9 winner
Game 12 – 12:30 p.m. – Game 8 winner vs. Game 10 winner
Game 13 – 4 p.m. – Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, if necessary
Game 14 – 7:30 p.m. – Game 8 winner vs. Game 10 winner, if necessary
Sunday’s Game
1 p.m. – Championship game