April 28, 2014, PROVIDENCE, R.I. (ISN) – The top two teams in the American Athletic Conference baseball standings held firm to those spots, as UCF and Louisville swept conference series to highlight weekend baseball action.
UCF continued its scorching play in sweeping Rutgers over the weekend, rising to 15-3 in league games. The Knights, winners in eight of their past nine games, closes out their home league slate at 11-1, their best home league record since 2004. Since starting the year at 9-12, UCF is 19-4 and winners of seven straight weekend series, including three conference sweeps.
The Knights got great starting pitching from Eric Skoglund Friday (9.0 IP, 1 ER) and then pounded out 22 hits over the next two days to finish the sweep. In conference-only games, the Knights feature the top two ERA’s in Ryan Meyer (0.84) and Zach Rodgers (1.12). UCF has begun to gain national recognition, appearing in the Baseball America poll this week for the first time at No. 23.
Louisville completed a 5-0 week with a home sweep of UConn and sit 11-4 in the conference. The Cardinals, who dropped their first series of the season to UCF last weekend, rebounded by outscoring the Huskies 16-3 in the three-game sweep. In their five games this week, Louisville hit .329 at the plate and was 13-for-15 in stolen bases, while on the mound, the Cardinals finished with a 1.20 ERA. During the current six-game winning streak, the Louisville bullpen has not allowed a run in 20.0 innings of work on the mound and has 15 strikeouts during that same span.
Elsewhere in The American, USF and Houston each won conference series to move into third and fourth place, respectively.
The Bulls took two out of three games from Memphis to improve to 10-8 in conference play. USF ace Jimmy Herget tossed a complete game in the opener, and is now 6-5 with a 1.27 ERA, and his 41 strikeouts in conference games top the league. Shortstop Kyle Teaf paces the Bulls with a .331 batting average and 61 total bases.
Houston won its series with Cincinnati, outscoring the Bearcats 26-5 in the two victories. With the exception of Conor Walsh silencing the Cougars bats on Saturday afternoon, Houston won the series by relying on a potent offense in a change of pace for one of the top pitching teams in the nation, which holds an ERA of exactly 2.00. In 382.0 innings, the Cougars have fanned 278 and walked just 78 – while holding opponents to a .221 average. Four Cougars are hitting over the .300 mark, led by junior Michael Pyeatt and senior Casey Grayson – each with a .321 average.
Midweek play will bring 14 games of regional action, highlighted by a Louisville – Ohio State duel, with Cincinnati, UConn, and Houston getting multiple results before conference play. Next weekend will match up the heavyweight teams – with the top four in the standings playing each other as UCF is at Houston and Louisville is at USF.
What They’re Saying
“What a great weekend. These guys really grinded through an intense week of baseball and I’m really proud of the way they played. The one thing I never question is the resiliency and toughness of this team. They are extremely tough and hardworking, and they continue to get better.”
UCF Head Coach Terry Rooney after the sweep of Rutgers