USF, 24-32, is facing elimination this afternoon as they battle Memphis (game begins at 3 PM) over in Clearwater for the AAC tournament. It’s simple, win and survive. Lose and pack up your bags and head home.
Memphis went 19-37 (9-15) in the regular season and took 2 out of 3 against USF as well. As a team they are batting .252 with a staff ERA of 5.14 (.272 average against them) as they entered the tournament. They beat ECU, the number two seed to advance to this stage of the tournament.
Leading the Tigers batting order is senior outfielder Jake Little who is batting .314 with 13 doubles, a triple, 3 home runs, has 27 RBIs and has scored 35 runs. Junior outfielder Darrien Tubbs is batting .301 with 11 doubles, 4 triples, 2 home runs, has 21 RBIs, has scored 37 runs and is 21 for 22 in steal attempts. Junior infielder Brandon Grudzielanek is batting .287 with 7 doubles, 3 home runs, has 31 RBIs and has scored 34 runs on the year. Junior outfielder Chris Carries is batting .274 with 15 doubles, 3 triples, 5 home runs, has 34 RBIs, has scored 41 runs and is 13 for 14 in steal attempts. Here are the numbers they produced against the USF pitching staff during those regular season games:
Little: 3 for 12, 2 runs scored, 1 walk, 2 strike outs
Tubbs: 1 for 12, 2 RBIs, 2 runs scored, 2 walks, 4 strike outs
Grudzielanek: 2 for 9, 4 RBIs, 4 walks, 2 strike outs, 1 run scored
Carrier: 0 for 1 with a strike out
One of the top arms for Memphis is junior RHP Nolan Blackwood went 2-4 (3.68 ERA) with 6 saves in 24 games while throwing 36.2 innings, allowing 32 hits, 19 runs, 10 walks and struck out 32 batters in the regular season. He went 3 innings with 1 hit allowed and 3 strike outs in two games against USF in the regular season. The USF offense has struggled in the first two games of the tournament. If they go into a late game situation against Blackwood, life could be tough going if they wanted to mount any kind of late comeback.
Like I said at the beginning, win and we survive to play another day. Lose and pack up the bus and head back across the bay because the season is over. Let’s see what happens today.