The Bulls, 23-31 (8-16), the number 7 seed, will be taking on ECU, 34-19-1 (15-8-1), the number two seed, at 11 AM on Wednesday in the first round of the AAC tournament over in Clearwater, FL. USF beat ECU 2 games to 1 in the regular season, but this is a new game as the tournament comes into play with double elimination being the way a team lives or dies in this tournament. Let’s go!
USF enters the tournament batting .247 as a team and has a staff ERA of 4.34 (opponents are batting .248 against them). ECU is batting .288 as a team and has a staff ERA of 3.36 (opponents are batting .249 against them). The Bulls took the regular season, but things could be different in this game.
Leading the ECU batting order is freshman outfielder Dwanya Williams-Sutton who is batting .372 with 11 doubles, 4 triples, 5 home runs, has 27 RBIs and has scored 28 runs on the year. Redshirt junior catcher Travis Watkins is batting .315 with 14 doubles, 3 home runs, 31 RBIs and has scored 36 runs on the year. Freshman infielder Turner Brown is batting .296 with 5 doubles, 3 home runs, with 31 RBIs, has scored 26 runs and is 9 for 12 in steal attempts. Rounding out their top hitters is junior catcher/outfielder Eric Tyler who is batting .294 with 12 doubles, 4 home runs with 33 RBIs and has scored 32 runs on the year. The USF pitching staff was able to get a two victories in the regular season and a key for the USF pitching staff will be closer Tommy Eveld who will be looking to close out the game for the Bulls if they have the lead. Eveld had 9 saves in 25 games (1.84 ERA) after going 49 innings, striking out 64 batters while allowing only 10 earned runs.
Here are how these 4 top bats did against the Bulls during the 3 regular season games:
Williams-Sutton: 1 for 7 with 1 RBI, 5 walks, and struck out once.
Watkins: 2 for 11, 2 RBIs, 2 runs scored, 3 walks, and 3 strike outs.
Brown: 7 for 12, 3 runs scored, 2 RBIs, and 1 walk.
Tyler: 3 for 14, 1 RBI, 2 runs scored, 3 strike outs.
Leading the ECU staff late in games is sophomore RHP Joe Ingle who was 5-3 in the regular season with 12 saves in 29 games where he threw 45.2 innings, allowing 35 hits, 24 runs, 30 walks and struck out 60 batters (went 2.1 innings, allowing 3 hits, 4 walks, 2 runs allowed and struck out 6 in the three regular season games). The potential starter for the game is junior Evan Kruczynski who is 6-1 (1.95 ERA) and has thrown 97 innings, allowing 88 hits, 27 runs, 18 walks while striking out 77 batters. He went 5 innings in his regular season start against USF, allowing 7 hits, 6 runs, 2 walks and struck out 2 batters. He and the staff will be facing a USF batting order that is led by first team AAC selection Kevin Merell who is batting .309 with 20 runs scored and 16 steals in 17 attempts. Merrell was 6 for 11 with 2 runs scored and 4 RBIs in the three games against ECU. Luke Borders also went on a tear against ECU, going 7 for 14 with with 3 home runs and 6 RBIs. Both along with the rest of the order will need to start fast to chase the ECU pitchers and get to the bullpen.
So this is how it goes. If USF loses this game, they will play the loser of game number 6 on Thursday at 11 AM which will include the loser of the Uconn vs. Memphis game. If USF wins, they will face the winner of that game on Thursday night at 7 PM. Let’s just take care of this game first and see what happens. The season is not over yet!