UCF Elimated From American Tourney, Cincinnati and UConn Advance To Championship

UCF’s Jordan Spicer had a complete game victory against Tulane of Friday night. The Knights lost Saturday to Cincinnati and were eliminated from the American Conference tournament. (Courtesy UCF athletics)

CLEARWATER – Cincinnati and UConn will play for the American Athletic Conference championship on Sunday afternoon.

That was determined Saturday when, in the first of two semifinal matchups in this double-elimination tournament at Spectrum Field, the Huskies (36-22) defeated Wichita State, 8-3. In the second game the Bearcats (29-29) topped UCF, 10-6.

The Knights, who are also 36-22, could still find themselves going to the NCAA tournament. Their fate will be known during Monday’s selection show, which will be at noon on ESPNU.

“I told the guys after the game that I was really proud of them,” said UCF coach Greg Lovelady. “A month ago, if somebody told us we’d be in the mix on Monday, I think everybody would have laughed at us. We were beaten down in the standings and we weren’t playing very well and had some tough losses. We said, ‘Hey, just go out there and fight and control our own destiny.’ I thought the last month that we made some strides.”

A 6-4 loss at Wichita State on April 20 was the Knights’ fifth in six games and left them at 5-10 in conference play. They then won 11 of 14 games to take some momentum into the tournament.

The Knights, who were the No. 6 seed, lost their tournament opener to Tulane on Tuesday night before wins over Memphis and the Green Wave lifted them into the semifinal.

On Saturday the Knights scored three runs in the third inning to take a 5-2 lead. Starting with a two-run fifth, Cincinnati rattled off eight unanswered runs to take a 10-5 lead and the UCF never threatened. A Knights’ win would have forced a second game between the teams Saturday night to determine who would advance to the championship.

Alas, the second-seeded Bearcats — UConn is the No. 4 seed — settled matters and will play for their first AAC title. The championship game is at noon and will be broadcast on ESPNews.

UCF freshman catcher Ben McCabe had an inning to remember. In the top half of the fourth he threw out two base runners, the first attempting to advance to second on what would have been a wild pitch and the second on a caught stealing.

In the bottom half, McCabe launched a two-run homer to left field that put the Knights up 4-2.

“I think we did really well,” he said when asked about his team’s play in the tourney. “Coming off a loss in the first game, winning two and putting up a fight today and giving ourselves a shot, I think we did pretty well.”

In Friday night’s 6-2 win over Tulane, senior right-hander Jordan Spicer threw a 116-pitch complete game. He allowed eight hits, one earned run, walked only one and fanned six in possibly his last appearance as a collegian.


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Wichita State’s feel-good trip to the Sunshine State concluded with an 8-3 loss to UConn in the first of Saturday’s semifinal games.

After qualifying for the tournament by taking two out of three at USF last weekend, the Shockers advanced to Saturday’s semifinal by winning a pair of games against top seed and eighth-ranked East Carolina, including a 12-5 victory Friday. The wins over the Pirates were sandwiched around a loss to UConn on Thursday.

In Friday’s win first baseman Mason O’Brien hit a pair of home runs, including a grand slam during a five-run second inning. He blasted a two-run shot an inning later giving him six RBIs to equal a conference tournament record.

East Carolina was last year’s tourney champ.

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Dunedin High product Trevor Jensen completed his career at Spectrum Field this week. In three tournament games the first baseman went 3-for-9, walked four times and scored a run. On the season Jensen, who played two seasons at St. Petersburg College, hit. 327 with seven homers and 39 RBIs. He was second on the Green Wave with 56 runs scored.

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Tom Layberger has been a sports writer, reporter and editor since 1990. Among the companies he has worked for are Comcast, NBC and The Topps Company. In addition to being a contributing writer for sportstalkflorida.com, Tom also writes for forbes.com and globalsportmatters.com. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs and a USF grad, Tom is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. He resides in Tampa.