American Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament In Clearwater

Wichita State is prolonging its stay in Tampa Bay

American Athletic Conference baseball tournament is taking place at Clearwater’s Spectrum Field (Photo by Tom Layberger)



CLEARWATER — With USF eliminated by losing two of three against visiting Wichita State last weekend, UCF is the only team from the Sunshine State participating in this week’s eight-team American Athletic Conference tournament at Spectrum Field.

It appeared as though the Knights’ stay in the double-elimination tourney might be short-lived after falling to No. 2 seed Tulane, 5-2, in one of Tuesday’s four opening-round games.

Alas, the sixth-seeded Knights (35-21) remained alive thanks to an 8-7 win in 10 innings over No. 7 seed Memphis on Wednesday evening. The victory set them up for Friday night’s game against the winner of Thursday evening’s game between Cincinnati and Tulane.

The Knights’ game Friday night will take place 47 minutes following the conclusion of ECU and Wichita State, which gets underway at 3 p.m.   

With one out in the bottom of the tenth, catcher Dallas Beaver singled to right to score Gephry Pena, who pinch ran for Ben McCabe. McCabe, out of Sarasota, opened the inning with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brandon Hernandez. Matthew Mika was intentionally walked, setting the stage for Beaver, a junior catcher.

The shocker, if you will pardon the pun, of Tuesday’s opening games was No. 8 seed Wichita State knocking off top seed and eighth-ranked ECU, 6-2.

The Shockers scored four runs in the ninth, three of which were plated on the first-career home run by freshman leftfielder Brady Slavens.

Wichita State would suffer its first tournament loss Thursday, 9-7, at the hands of No. 4 seed UConn, which defeated No. 5 Houston, 4-3, on Tuesday.

Tied at seven after eight innings, the Huskies scored twice in the top of the ninth to take the lead. The Shockers had runners on first and second with one out in the bottom half against UConn closer Jacob Wallace when left fielder John Toppa made a leaping catch against the wall to save at least one run.

Following a review to see whether the runner on second, Ross Cadena, tagged in moving to third, Wallace fanned David Vanvooren to end the game.

Semifinal games will be played Saturday (starting at 10 a.m.) with the championship Sunday at noon, which will be broadcast on ESPNews.



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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.