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Sun Belt Conference Baseball news and notes

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Sun Belt Conference Weekly News and Notes (Week 7)
2013 Sun Belt Conference Media Guide
2013 Sun Belt Conference Composite Schedule
2013 Sun Belt Conference Standings
2013 Sun Belt Conference Statistics

UALR junior Austin Pfeiffer and FIU junior Tyler Alexander were named the Sun Belt Conference's Baseball Player and Pitcher of the Week, respectively, the league office announced.

Pfeiffer led the Trojans to four wins in the most-recent reporting week, hitting .500 (7-for-14) with six RBI and a homer. Pfeiffer was a perfect 4-for-4 in stolen bases and sported a .786 slugging percentage and .650 OBP over the four-game span.

Alexander pitched a four-hit shutout against Arkansas State on Friday night in a 1-0 FIU win. Alexander matched a career-high with 10 strikeouts and lowered his team-leading ERA to 2.84.

The UALR baseball went a perfect 4-0 over the past week of play, winning a midweek contest at Stephen F. Austin before returning home to sweep ULM in a three-game series at Gary Hogan Field. UALR entered the week on a seven-game losing skid, but picked up its first true road win of the season at SFA on Tuesday before earning its first three conference wins of the year against the Warhawks in their weekend series.

Florida Atlantic went a perfect 4-0 last week and won all four games against teams with an RPI ranking of 19 or better. The Owls began the important week by defeating Miami 6-1 in Coral Gables. Then, the Owls swept a three-game home series from No. 24-ranked South Alabama to move into a tie atop the Sun Belt Conference with a 7-2 league record. FAU has won a season-best six straight games and stand 19-9 on the season.

Left-hander Tyler Alexander pitched his first career shutout in a 1-0 win against Arkansas State on Friday. Alexander threw a four-hitter and struck out a career-high 10 batters. Alexander leads the Panthers in ERA with a 2.84 mark and opponents are hitting just .208 off of him. Josh Anderson took over the team lead in RBI with 24. Anderson hit a dramatic three-run walk-off home run Sunday to lift FIU to a 9-6 win over the Red Wolves in 11 innings. Anderson beat the clock as well as the 11th was going to be the final inning due to ASU's travel plans. Anderson was 5 for 13 (.385) in the series and tied Aramis Garcia for the team lead with his fifth home run. Garcia took the team lead in round trippers on Friday with his solo blast being the decisive run in the 1-0 win over ASU.

After closing out a seven-game road trip that included back-to-back flights to Nashville for weekend series at Middle Tennessee and WKU, the Ragin' Cajuns are set to begin a five-game homestand at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field that runs April 2-9. The Cajuns host McNeese State (April 2) and Tulane (April 9) in midweek games and Troy (April 5-7) in a Sun Belt series during the home stand. Louisiana carries an eight-game win streak at "The Tigue" into the home stand and sports a 15-2 record in the friendly confines this season…Tyler Girouard continues to pace the Cajuns and Sun Belt Conference in batting average at a .434 clip and is riding a career-best 12-game hitting streak into this week's action.

Troy put together a perfect 4-0 week with a mid-week victory over Auburn (11-2) and a weekend sweep of Middle Tennessee (3-2, 3-0, 5-3). The Troy pitching staff has allowed just seven runs over the past five games and 43 innings; 5 ER, 51 K, 1.05 ERA, .192 Opp. batting avg. It was Troy's first sweep of Middle Tennessee since 2006 and the first Sun Belt Conference sweep for the Trojans since 2011. Troy's two shutouts in a three-game Sun Belt span also marked a first in program history.

WKU took two of three from Louisiana-Lafayette over the weekend, improving to 7-2 in league play for the fourth time since 1982. The 7-2 record marks the second-best start in school history in Sun Belt play, behind a pair of 8-1 starts. WKU starting pitcher Andrew Edwards tossed the first complete game of the season for the Hilltoppers, throwing all nine innings in a complete-game shutout in game one of a doubleheader on Saturday. Edwards' complete-game shutout was the first for WKU since 2007.

Week 7 Sun Belt Conference Baseball Player of the Week

Austin Pfeiffer (UALR, Junior, SS)
UALR junior Austin Pfeiffer led the Trojans to four wins in the most-recent reporting week, hitting .500 (7-for-14) with six RBI and a homer. Pfeiffer was a perfect 4-for-4 in stolen bases and sported a .786 slugging percentage and .650 OBP over the four-game span. The Benton, Ark.-native's week was highlighted by a 3-for-4 effort in UALR's 11-3 win on Saturday, when he homered, scored three runs, collected two RBI and stole two bases.

Week 7 Sun Belt Conference Baseball Pitcher of the Week

Tyler Alexander (FIU, Junior)
Alexander pitched a four-hit shutout against Arkansas State on Friday night in a 1-0 FIU win. Alexander matched a career-high with 10 strikeouts and lowered his team-leading ERA to 2.84. Alexander leads the Panthers with 45 strikeouts in 44 1/3 innings pitched and opponents are hitting just .208 off of him this season.

Recent Results

March 26 (Tuesday) 
UALR 5, Stephen F. Austin 4
Louisiana-Lafayette 9, Southeastern La. 6
No. 24 South Alabama 3, Southern Miss 1 (10 innings)
Auburn 2, Troy 11
Louisiana-Monroe 5, Northwestern St. 4
Middle Tennessee 2, Memphis 1

March 27 (Wednesday) 
Middle Tennessee 4, Memphis 6
Florida Atlantic 6, Miami 1
Arkansas State 4, No. 15 Ole Miss 10
Evansville 5, WKU 8

March 29 (Friday) * 
UALR 3, Louisiana-Monroe 2
WKU 10, Louisiana-Lafayette 9 (11 innings)
Florida Atlantic 6, South Alabama 3
Troy 3, Middle Tennessee 2
FIU 1, Arkansas State 0

March 30 (Saturday) * 
UALR 11, Louisiana-Monroe 3
WKU 3, Louisiana-Lafayette 0
Florida Atlantic 7, South Alabama 6
Troy 3, Middle Tennessee 0
FIU 8, Arkansas State 7
WKU 6, Louisiana-Lafayette 8

March 31 (Sunday) * 
UALR 13, Louisiana-Monroe 3 (7 innings)
Florida Atlantic 3, South Alabama 0
Troy 5, Middle Tennessee 3
FIU 9, Arkansas State 6 (11 innings)

Upcoming Games

April 2 (Tuesday) 
Florida A&M at FIU 5:00 PM
Lynn at Florida Atlantic 5:30 PM
UALR at Central Arkansas 6:00 PM
Grambling at Louisiana-Monroe 6:00 PM
McNeese St. at Louisiana-Lafayette 6:00 PM
Alabama State at Troy 6:00 PM
SE Missouri St. at Arkansas State 6:30 PM
Middle Tennessee at No. 5 Vanderbilt 6:30 PM
No. 17 Mississippi St. at South Alabama 6:30 PM

April 3 (Wednesday) 
Florida A&M at FIU 3:00 PM
Southeastern La. at South Alabama 6:30 PM

April 5 (Friday) * 
WKU at Arkansas State 6:00 PM
Florida Atlantic at Louisiana-Monroe 6:00 PM
Troy at Louisiana-Lafayette 6:00 PM
UALR at Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
FIU at South Alabama 6:30 PM

April 6 (Saturday) * 
WKU at Arkansas State 4:00 PM
UALR at Middle Tennessee 4:00 PM
Florida Atlantic at Louisiana-Monroe 6:00 PM
Troy at Louisiana-Lafayette 6:00 PM
FIU at South Alabama 6:30 PM

April 7 (Sunday) * 
WKU at Arkansas State 1:00 PM
Florida Atlantic at Louisiana-Monroe 1:00 PM
Troy at Louisiana-Lafayette 1:00 PM
UALR at Middle Tennessee 1:00 PM
FIU at South Alabama 1:00 PM

Previous Players/Pitchers of the Week
02.18 - PLAYER: Danny Collins, TROY | PITCHER: Hunter Adkins, MT
02.25 - PLAYER: Nolan Earley, USA | PITCHER: Jeremy Strawn, FAU
03.04 - PLAYER: Danny Collins, TROY | PITCHER: Jacob Noble, USA
03.11 - PLAYER: Mark Nelson, FAU | PITCHER: Shane McCain, TROY
03.18 - PLAYER: Ryan Huck, WKU | PITCHER: Austin Gomber, FAU
03.25 - PLAYER: Michael, Adkins, MT | PITCHER: Jarron Cito, USA
04.01 - PLAYER: Austin Pfeiffer, UALR | PITCHER: Tyler Alexander, FIU

TEAM NOTES

UALR
The UALR baseball went a perfect 4-0 over the past week of play, winning a midweek contest at Stephen F. Austin before returning home to sweep ULM in a three-game series at Gary Hogan Field. UALR entered the week on a seven-game losing skid, but picked up its first true road win of the season at SFA on Tuesday before earning its first three conference wins of the year against the Warhawks in their weekend series. The Trojans hit .341 as a team over their last four games, led by junior Austin Pfeiffer (.500) and senior John Clark (.429). In all, seven different UALR players hit .300 or better during the week. Senior Blake Johnson led the team with seven RBI, while junior Ben Crumpton scored a team-high seven runs. The team stole 11 bases over the four games, led by a perfect 4-for-4 effort on the base pats by Pfeiffer. Crumpton (3-for-3) and senior Myles Parma (2-for-2) combined for five stolen bases. Senior Chance Cleveland led a strong week of pitching performances for the Trojans. Cleveland picked up his third win of the season on Friday against the Warhawks after surrendering just two runs on five hits while throwing his second complete game of the season. Senior Blake Huffman nearly went the distance on Saturday, going 8.0 innings while striking out a career-best 10 ULM hitters in UALR's 11-3 win. Junior Ethan Schlechte turned in one of his best pitching performances on Sunday. Schlechte struck out six in 6.0 innings while getting the win in UALR's 13-3 victory. Freshman Jesse Harbin served as the UALR bullpen on the weekend, throwing the final inning in both of UALR's final two victories against the Warhawks. Harbin allowed just one hit in his 2.0 innings of work on the weekend. This week, UALR will face in-state foe Central Arkansas on Tuesday in Conway before traveling to Murfreesboro, Tenn., to take on Middle Tennessee in a three-game series starting Friday.

Arkansas State
Arkansas State suffered its first Sun Belt Conference sweep of the season, dropping three games to Florida International over the weekend. In Friday night's loss senior right-hander Daniel Wright tossed one of his best outings of the year, but still took the loss. Wright went a career-high 7.2 innings and struck out eight batters, one shy of tying a career high. He surrendered just one run on six hits, but A-State left eight runners on base, including the tying run on second base in the top of the 9th inning in its first SBC road loss of the year. The Red Wolves ended a 12-inning scoreless streak on Saturday by scoring two runs in the top of the first inning against the Panthers, but could not hold onto the lead. ASU mounted a rally in the top of the ninth and nearly erased an 8-3 deficit when a fielding error allowed two runs to score. Ryan Roberts continued his hot hitting and followed with a two-run single to pull within 8-7, but ASU failed to score the tying run for its fifth straight loss. Cody Woodhouse was excellent in his two outing over the last week. The junior right-hander started at Ole Miss during midweek action and pitched 3 2/3 innings and gave up just two runs on three hits and had three strikeouts, but Woodhouse shined in his relief outing in Miami on Saturday. Sophomore starter Chandler Hawkins did not record out in the second inning and Woodhouse replaced Hawkins and tossed four shutout innings of baseball. He gave up just three hits and did not allow a run in his time on the mound. Logan Uxa broke out of a slump by going 3-for-6 over the weekend's first two games, including hitting his second home run of the season. It was also the 18th home run of his career as a Red Wolves' baseball player. As a team, ASU has now hit 12 home runs on the season. Ryan Roberts hit safely in all four games over the past week and now has a team-best nine-game hitting streak, while Claude Johnson has hit safely in eight straight games. The Red Wolves rallied to tie Sunday's game at 6-6 in the top of the ninth and were flirting with possibility of tying with the Panthers for the second time in the three years due the curfew rule, but ultimately dropped the game on walk-off home run. The Red Wolves have now lost six straight games, their longest losing streak of the season.  They will return home for an eight-game home stand beginning Tuesday, April 2 against Southeast Missouri State at Tomlinson Stadium.

Florida Atlantic
Florida Atlantic went a perfect 4-0 last week and won all four games against teams with an RPI ranking of 19 or better.  The Owls began the important week by defeating Miami 6-1 in Coral Gables.  Then, the Owls swept a three-game home series from No. 24-ranked South Alabama to move into a tie atop the Sun Belt Conference with a 7-2 league record. FAU has won a season-best six straight games and stand 19-9 on the season. Junior pitcher Jeremy Strawn tossed a complete-game shutout as the Owls completed the sweep of South Alabama on Sunday, March 31.  The right hander retired the last 10 batters he faced and struck out seven batters.  Strawn threw the first FAU shutout since Paul Davis on May 20, 2011 against FIU. FAU started the series against South Alabama with a 6-3 win on Friday, March 29 behind a strong seven innings from sophomore Austin Gomber. The team scored five unanswered runs in rallying from a four-run deficit to earn a 7-6 win on Saturday, March 30. The sweep of the Jaguars marks the first league series sweep since Louisiana from March 30-April 1 last season in Boca Raton. Junior infielder Robert Buckley helped carry the offensive load, driving in five runs and scoring four additional runs. He hit his first home run of the season with a three-run shot against Miami.  All three of his hits last week went for extra bases.  Buckley scored two runs on his first career triple in Saturday's game against South Alabama.  He added a double and three runs scored in the contest. Senior Mark Nelson hit his team-leading sixth home run during Sunday's series finale.  The Orlando native was one of three Owls last season to hit seven home runs. FAU closes out its four-game home stand on Tuesday, April 2 when it battles Lynn in a Battle of Boca Raton.  The Owls travel to ULM for a three-game series beginning on Friday, April 5.

FIU
Left-hander Tyler Alexander pitched his first career shutout in a 1-0 win against Arkansas State on Friday. Alexander threw a four-hitter and struck out a career-high 10 batters. Alexander leads the Panthers in ERA with a 2.84 mark and opponents are hitting just .208 off of him. . .Josh Anderson took over the team lead in RBI with 24. Anderson hit a dramatic three-run walk-off home run Sunday to lift FIU to a 9-6 win over the Red Wolves in 11 innings. Anderson beat the clock as well as the 11th was going to be the final inning due to ASU's travel plans. Anderson was 5 for 13 (.385) in the series and tied Aramis Garcia for the team lead with his fifth home run. Garcia took the team lead in round trippers on Friday with his solo blast being the decisive run in the 1-0 win over ASU . .Julius Gaines continues the hot start to his sophomore season. Gaines was 7 for 13 in the ASU series and took over the team lead in hitting with a .355 average. . .Reliever Albert Cardenas has not allowed an earned run since March 1 -- a span of 18 2/3 innings pitched -- and leads the FIU bullpen with an 0.83 ERA on the season. Cardenas pitched four scoreless innings in the ASU series and struck out seven batters.

Louisiana-Lafayette
After closing out a seven-game road trip that included back-to-back flights to Nashville for weekend series at Middle Tennessee and WKU, the Ragin' Cajuns are set to begin a five-game homestand at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field that runs April 2-9…The Cajuns host McNeese State (April 2) and Tulane (April 9) in midweek games and Troy (April 5-7) in a Sun Belt series during the homestand…Louisiana carries an eight-game win streak at "The Tigue" into the homestand and sports a 15-2 record in the friendly confines this season…Tyler Girouard continues to pace the Cajuns and Sun Belt Conference in batting average at a .434 clip and is riding a career-best 12-game hitting streak into this week's action…Girouard is hitting .500 (24-of-48) during the hit streak which has spanned the last three week's of action…Girouard's three-hit performance in game one of Saturday's WKU doubleheader marked his ninth multiple-hit game during his hitting streak…Girouard has rapped out 16 hits through the first nine Sun Belt contests…Saturday's doubleheader at WKU brought to a close the first half of the 2013 season…In the first half the season, the Cajuns had seven players hit above .300, nine players register 20-plus hits and eight players with double digits in RBI…Michael Strentz was the Cajuns top hitter in the WKU series with a .600 average (6-of-10) ending a slump that had him 5-for-27 (.185) since returning from the hand injury suffered in the Sacred Heart finale…Matt Hicks tossed the final 3 2/3 innings at Southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday to pick up his 12th career save which tied the school mark set by Kraig Schambough (2002-05) and tied by Justin Robichaux (2007-10)…Hicks has eight saves in 2013 leaving him one shy of the single season record nine set by Justin Robichaux in 2008…Louisiana's 22 home runs eclipse the total of 18 hit during the 2012 season (53 games); the Cajuns surpassed the 2012 total in the season's 21st game…The Ragin' Cajuns hold a +42 run differential over the opposition outscoring foes 179-137…Louisiana owns seven victories of six-plus runs…Outfielder Seth Harrison made his pitching debut in game two Saturday at WKU and posted a save closing out the game with a strikeout with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth…It was Harrison's first appearance on the mound against outside competition since pitching for Hill College in the 2012 season…Tony Robichaux is one of 22 active Division I head coaches with 900 career victories at the Division I level (913-624-1)…Robichaux coached in his 500th career Sun Belt game on Friday at WKU…Blake Trahan is the only true freshman in starting lineup with all 26 of his starts at shortstop…Trahan's batting average has been above .300 since Feb. 20 and his longest stretch of at bats without a base hit has been seven…Trahan has picked up at least one base hit in 20 of 26 appearances…Austin Robichaux turned in his third quality start of the season allowing just two earned runs over seven innings in game one of Saturday's doubleheader at WKU…The series loss at WKU marked the Cajuns second straight series loss after beginning the season 5-for-5 in weekend series decisions…Louisiana put together three different streaks of at least four straight wins in getting off to a 17-3 start and did not suffer back-to-back defeats until the 22nd game of the season.

Louisiana-Monroe
ULM and Grambling State will conclude a two-game home-and-home series Tuesday night at Warhawk Field... ULM leads the all-time series, 42-14, but dropped the first meeting of the season at Grambling State (L, 0-4, March 19). Taylor Abdalla collected two hits and two RBI in Sunday's finale at UALR. Dalton Herrington led the Warhawks Saturday at UALR as he recorded a career-best four hits with one run and one RBI. Justin Stawychny delivered a pinch-hit homer for ULM in the top of the seventh of Friday night's contest to give the Warhawks a 2-1 advantage. Cale Wine recorded his fourth complete game of the 2013 season Friday night at UALR... In the loss, Wine allowed three runs on seven hits with one walk and five strikeouts. ULM picked up a 5-4 victory over Northwestern State (3/26) as the season series ended at two wins each with the road team winning all four games. Corben Green reached base in all five plate appearances against the Demons... Green tallied three hits, one walk and one HBP... He also drove in one run and scored another. Chris Dudley also paced the Warhawks as he tied a career-high with three hits at Northwestern State... Dudley's only run of the night proved to be the decisive run as he scored on a wild pitch in the top of the ninth. Tyler Bray earned his second win of the season after surrendering zero hits and zero runs during his 1.2 innings of relief.

Middle Tennessee
Middle Tennessee went 1-4 last week, splitting a midweek series with Memphis and was swept by Troy this weekend. MT's Jordan Cooper led the way in MT's victory over Memphis in Tuesday's 2-1 win. Cooper's performance against Memphis on March 26 was one of the best for MT in the past six years. He struck out 10 in just six innings to pick up the victory. He is the first Blue Raider to fan 10 or more since Brad Robinson struck out 10 against WKU on May 17, 2007. The Blue Raiders defeated No. 2 Vanderbilt on March 20 with a 4-1 home victory. It marked the first victory for Middle Tennessee over the Commodores since 2009 when the Blue Raiders earned a 5-4 win the NCAA Regional in Louisville, Ky. It was also the first home win over Vandy since 2009. MT last knocked off a ranked team in 2011, defeating No. 18 Troy twice. The last win against an opponent ranked No. 2 or better was also against Vanderbilt when the Commodores were ranked No. 1 in 2007. MT took that contest, 11-8, at home. This week the Blue Raiders travel to No. 3 Vanderbilt on Tuesday, before they host the Trojans of UALR this coming weekend.

South Alabama
South Alabama went 1-3 last week after taking a midweek game at Southern Miss before dropping all three games at Florida Atlantic over the weekend. The 3-1 win in 10 innings at Southern Miss marked the second consecutive season the Jaguars have swept the Golden Eagles. USA suffered its first-ever sweep to Florida Atlantic, and fell to 7-16 all-time against the Owls. The Jaguar pitching staff struck out 32 batters against 11 walks in four games last week while posting a 3.44 ERA in 34 innings. USA hit .274 during the week with two doubles, a homer, 10 RBI and 12 runs scored. Jordan Patterson had his on-base streak halted at 28 games after not reaching in Sunday's finale at FAU. Cole Billingsley and Whitt Dorsey carry a six-game hitting streak each into the week. South Alabama will open a six-game home stand this week, beginning Tuesday when it hosts Mississippi State at 6:30 p.m. at Stanky Field. The Jags will then host Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday, before taking on Florida International in a three-game SBC series at Stanky Field.

Troy
Troy put together a perfect 4-0 week with a mid-week victory over Auburn (11-2) and a weekend sweep of Middle Tennessee (3-2, 3-0, 5-3) … The Troy pitching staff has allowed just seven runs over the past five games and 43 innings; 5 ER, 51 K, 1.05 ERA, .192 Opp. batting avg. … It was Troy's first sweep of Middle Tennessee since 2006 and the first Sun Belt Conference sweep for the Trojans since 2011; Troy went on to win the Sun Belt both years … Troy's 3-0 shutout in game two of the series against MTSU was the first ever by a Troy team against Middle … Troy's two shutouts in a three-game Sun Belt span also marked a first in program history … Matthew Howard picked up a save in the final two games of the series with MTSU and now has five which ties him for 10th on the single-season list … Troy hosts Alabama State on Tuesday before traveling to Louisiana-Lafayette this weekend.

WKU
WKU took two of three from Louisiana-Lafayette over the weekend, improving to 7-2 in league play for the fourth time since 1982. The 7-2 record marks the second-best start in school history in Sun Belt play, behind a pair of 8-1 starts. WKU starting pitcher Andrew Edwards tossed the first complete game of the season for the Hilltoppers, throwing all nine innings in a complete-game shutout in game one of a doubleheader on Saturday. Edwards' complete-game shutout was the first for WKU since 2007. Slugger Ryan Huck continued his tear in conference play, belting his eighth and ninth home runs of the season. Huck has now blasted six home runs in six home conference games this season, after hitting four in the opening three-game series against Middle Tennessee. WKU will host Austin Peay at 6:00 on Wednesday at Nick Denes Field, before hitting the road to Arkansas State over the weekend.

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