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Sun Belt Conference Baseball news and notes

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From the Sun Belt Conference

Week 12 Sun Belt Conference Baseball Player of the Week

Ryan Huck (WKU, Senior, 1B)
Ryan Huck had multiple hits in three of the four games last week, including going a perfect 5-for-5 in the series finale against ULM on Sunday. Huck blasted his team-leading 12th home run of the season on Tuesday at No. 11 Louisville, giving the senior first baseman home runs in each of the 2013 games against the Cardinals. For the week, Huck hit .611, driving in five runs, while leading the team with 11 hits over the four-game span. Huck's 11 hits helped propel WKU to a series win over ULM, while pounding out a season high 41 hits in the three-game series. Four of Huck's 11 hits for the week for extra-base hits, giving him 24 extra-base hits this season to lead the team. Huck currently leads WKU in nearly every offensive category, including average (.348), runs (34), home runs (12), RBI (42), slugging percentage (.652), on-base percentage (.462) and walks (34).

Week 12 Sun Belt Conference Baseball Pitcher of the Week

Blake Huffman (UALR, Senior, RHP)
Senior Blake Huffman took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and allowed two runs on four hits in UALR's 10-5 win over Florida Atlantic on Sunday. Huffman allowed just one base runner over the first seven innings en route to picking up his team-leading sixth victory of the season. The right-hander finished the day with seven strikeouts against no walks and issued just one free base when Levi Meyer struck out but reached base on a wild pitch in the eighth.

Recent Results

April 30 (Tuesday) 
WKU 2, No. 11 Louisville 6
Stephen F. Austin 5, UALR 6 (10 innings)
Louisiana-Monroe at Southern Miss CANCELED
Middle Tennessee 7, Tennessee 6
Memphis 6, Arkansas State 0
Louisiana-Lafayette 4, Houston 6

May 1 (Wednesday) 
Florida Gulf Coast 8, FIU 6
Florida Gulf Coast 10, FIU 4

May 3 (Friday) * 
Arkansas State 4, Louisiana-Lafayette 11
Louisiana-Monroe 3, WKU 2
FIU 5, Troy 11
Middle Tennessee 11, South Alabama 12 (14 innings)

May 4 (Saturday) * 
Louisiana-Monroe 2, WKU 7
FIU 3, Troy 14
UALR 4, Florida Atlantic 9
UALR 14, Florida Atlantic 10
Arkansas State 6, Louisiana-Lafayette 14
Middle Tennessee 2, South Alabama 3 (10 innings)

May 5 (Sunday) * 
UALR 10, Florida Atlantic 5
Arkansas State 1, Louisiana-Lafayette 8
Louisiana-Monroe 1, WKU 9
Middle Tennessee 6, South Alabama 5
FIU 1, Troy 3

Upcoming Games

May 7 (Tuesday) 
Jacksonville at FIU 5:00 PM
Florida Atlantic at Florida 5:30 PM
& Central Arkansas at UALR 6:30 PM

May 8 (Wednesday) 
Jacksonville at FIU 12:00 PM
Arkansas State at Tennessee 6:00 PM
Troy at Alabama 6:00 PM

May 10 (Friday) * 
FIU at UALR 6:00 PM
South Alabama at Louisiana-Lafayette 6:00 PM
Florida Atlantic at WKU 6:00 PM
Louisiana-Monroe at Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
Arkansas State at Troy 6:00 PM

May 11 (Saturday) * 
Florida Atlantic at WKU 3:00 PM
FIU at UALR 4:00 PM
Louisiana-Monroe at Middle Tennessee 4:00 PM
South Alabama at Louisiana-Lafayette 6:00 PM
Arkansas State at Troy 6:00 PM

May 12 (Sunday) * 
FIU at UALR 1:00 PM
South Alabama at Louisiana-Lafayette 1:00 PM
Florida Atlantic at WKU 1:00 PM
Louisiana-Monroe at Middle Tennessee 1:00 PM
Arkansas State at Troy 1:00 PM

$ - Game to be played at Dickey-Stephens Park (N. Little Rock, Ark.)

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
04.08 - PLAYER: Edwin Rios, FIU | PITCHER: Daniel Wright, Arkansas State
04.15 - PLAYER: Nick Zaharion, South Alabama | PITCHER: Austin Robichaux, Louisiana-Lafayette
04.22 - PLAYER: Danny Collins, TROY | PITCHER: Tanner Hicks, Troy
04.29 - PLAYER: Dylan Butler, Louisiana-Lafayette | PITCHER: Chance Cleveland, UALR
05.06 - PLAYER: Ryan Huck, WKU | PITCHER: Blake Huffman, UALR

TEAM NOTES

UALR
UALR (24-23, 10-14 SBC) moved into sole possession of eighth place of the Sun Belt standings after earning its first road SBC series win of the season at Florida Atlantic this past weekend. After falling in game one of a Saturday doubleheader, UALR slugged its way to a 14-10 win in game two before Blake Huffman took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in the Trojans' 10-5 win in game three on Sunday. The Trojans have now won five of their last six Sun Belt games and have claimed back-to-back SBC series victories for the first time this season. Five different UALR players ended the series with four hits. Junior Kaleb Jobe led the way by going 4-for-10 in the series with one homer, four RBI and four runs scored. After rain canceled Friday night's series opener, UALR rebounded from a 9-4 loss in game one to slug its way past Florida Atlantic 14-10 in game two as the teams split a doubleheader Saturday afternoon. Junior Dillon Moritz evened his record to 2-2 with the win in game two for UALR, allowing only one run on four hits with three strikeouts in tossing the final four innings. Senior Chance Cleveland (5-7) took the loss in game one for the Trojans, allowing seven runs (six earned) on 11 hits and two walks with five strikeouts in five innings. Offensively on the day, senior Blake Johnson went 4-for-10 with four RBI. Junior Austin Pfeiffer had three hits in eight at-bats with a home run, three runs scored and three RBI. Junior Ben Crumpton went 2-for-8 with three runs scored and three RBI. Senior John Clark and junior Kaleb Jobe each added a home run for UALR. UALR moved back over the .500 mark with a 10-5 win over Florida Atlantic Sunday afternoon. From the plate, senior John Clark and junior Kaleb Jobe both added two hits in four at-bats. Jobe had a run scored and three RBI while Clark scored three times, also reaching base on a walk. Senior Chris Burk hit a two-run home run in the top of the ninth for a pair of critical insurance runs. UALR returns to action this Tuesday with a midweek contest against in-state foe Central Arkansas at Dickey-Stephens Park. The Trojans then begin their final home series of the season on Friday when they host FIU at Gary Hogan Field.

Arkansas State
The Arkansas State baseball team suffered a rough week, dropping all four its games it played on the week, including a three-game Sun Belt Conference sweep at the hands of Louisiana-Lafayette. The Red Wolves struggled offensively on the week, scoring just 11 runs over the four games. The week began with a 6-0 loss to Memphis in Jonesboro. It was the second game of a home-home series with the Tigers. ASU defeated Memphis earlier in the year in extra innings, but a slow start offensively helped the Tigers even the season series. The woes continued through the weekend as the Red Wolves dropped three games to the Ragin' Cajuns. Dustin Jones enjoyed a solid weekend at the plate, collecting four hits and four RBIs over the first two days of the series. Alex Potts also enjoyed a strong weekend, going 5-for-8 during the series with an RBI and two runs scored. Potts also had a sacrifice bunt on the weekend, raising his total to 21 on the year which leads the nation. Freshman Kevin Fitzpatrick went 3-for-4 on stolen bases on the weekend, raising his season total to five, which leads the team. He stole two bases on Sunday, including executing a double steal with Ryan Emery that led to an error and allowed Fitzpatrick to score the game's first run. The Red Wolves will play their final midweek contest of the year on Wednesday, May 8 against the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. A-State will then travel to Troy for a three-game conference series against the Trojans.

Florida Atlantic
Florida Atlantic concluded the home portion of its Sun Belt Conference season, falling 10-5 to UALR on Sunday. The loss marked the second straight home series loss and third straight series setback for the Owls. FAU stands 29-19 on the season and is 13-11 in SBC action. The team had a season-high 19 hits, including seven multiple-hit efforts in winning the first game of a doubleheader 9-4 on Saturday. FAU used a six-run sixth inning to take a 9-6 lead in the nightcap. However, UALR rallied for five runs in the seventh and scored three more times in the eighth inning to even the three-game series. FAU honored seniors Hugh Adams, Gregg Bennis, Corey Keller, Jake Meiers, Mark Nelson, Nathan Pittman, Mike Spano and Michael Sylvestri prior to Saturday's second game. The senior class has recorded 129 wins, including 70 in league play. The seniors have also captured two Sun Belt Conference regular-season titles and made an appearance in the 2010 Gainesville Regional. On Sunday, UALR scored five runs in the fourth inning and held an 8-0 lead before FAU scored two runs in the eighth inning and scoring three more times in the ninth. The Owls play at Florida on Tuesday, May 7 at 6:30 p.m. before traveling to Western Kentucky for a three-game series.

FIU
FIU suffered a weekend sweep to the Troy Trojans. Sophomore Oscar Aguirre led the way for the Panthers this weekend with two homeruns and five RBI. Despite the sweep, FIU got a strong starting pitching performance from freshman Alex Seibold on Sunday, as the rookie went six innings of eight hit ball, while giving up two runs and striking out four in the 3-1 loss to the Trojans. The Panthers stranded ten runners in that game, including leaving the bases loaded in the eighth inning and leaving runners on first and third with nobody out in the ninth. Freshman Edwin Rios had a 21-game reached base streak snapped on Sunday. Rios leads the Panthers in multiple hit games and has a team-best three games with four hits. Additionally, Rios leads the squad with 13 multiple RBI games. Sophomore Aramis Garcia, who is riding a modest three-game hit streak, leads the team with 10 homeruns this year. The Panther host Jacksonville in a pair of midweek games on Tuesday and Wednesday before hitting the road to take on Arkansas-Little Rock this weekend in their final road Sun Belt series.

Louisiana-Lafayette
The Ragin' Cajuns wrap up the regular season portion of their home schedule this weekend hosting league-leading South Alabama Friday-Sunday, May 10-12 in a three-game Sun Belt series…The Jaguars provide the opposition for the Cajuns' final home series for the first time since 2003…Louisiana enters the series trailing South Alabama by two games for the top spot in the SBC standings…The Cajuns will bring a five-game win streak in conference play into the series…UL is a perfect 7-for-7 in weekend series at "The Tigue" in 2013…During the squad's current five-game win streak in SBC play, the Cajuns are hitting .389, slugging .676 and have outscored foes a combined 56-16…The Cajuns hit .368 for the Arkansas State series, marking the fifth straight weekend the squad hit above .350 in a Sun Belt series…UL is now batting .334 in Sun Belt games…The pitching staff ERA for the ASU series was 3.33 giving UL a sub-4.00 ERA in an SBC series for the third straight week…UL won a weekend series for the fifth straight weekend and 10th time in 12 weekends overall…Louisiana outscored Arkansas State 33-11 and out-hit the Red Wolves 39-22 over three games…The ASU sweep was the fourth of the season and first since Sun Belt opening weekend against ULM…The Cajuns have homered in 12 straight games, a streak that dates back to the FAU series opener on April 19…UL has now scored 357 runs and is on pace to reach 400 runs for the first time since 2007 (six regular season games, plus postseason play)…The Cajuns 543 hits are the most produced since the 2010 team clubbed 597 and has the squad on pace for the hit 600-hit season since 2007…Jace Conrad's four RBI in the ASU series opener increased his season total to 20, giving the Cajuns all nine starters in the lineup with 20-plus RBI…Seven of the nine starters have reached 30 RBI…Blake Trahan carries a season-best, 10-game hitting streak into the USA series…Caleb Adams became the first Cajun with double digit home runs after his two-homer day in the ASU finale upped his season total to 11…The Ragin' Cajuns have reached at least 13 base hits in each of their last five Sun Belt games…Seth Harrison (8) and Ryan Leonards (7) have combined for 15 bunt singles…Leonards reached 50 hits for a second straight season with his squeeze bunt single in the second inning of the ASU opener…Dex Kjerstad climbed over 70 hits over the weekend, becoming the first Cajun with 70-plus hits since Mike Petello (72) and Greg Fontenot (70) in 2011…Austin Robichaux pitched seven complete innings for the seventh time in eight Sun Belt weekends…Cody Boutte began the game with five consecutive strikeouts on his way to posting a season-high eight in Saturday's ASU game…Boutte reached at least five strikeouts in an appearance for the seventh time in 12th appearance…Boutte picked up his eighth victory of the season pulling him into a tie with Troy's Shane McCain for the Sun Belt Conference lead…Michael Strentz was hit by a pitch for the 18th time this season on Saturday, moving him within one of the school record (19 by Matt Goulas in 2010)…Strentz now has 31 free passes this season (13 walks, 18 hit by pitch)…Strentz picked up his 18th double of the season which has him two shy of becoming the first Cajun with 20 doubles since Jonathan Lucroy hit exactly 20 in 2006…Dex Kjerstad collected his 23rd multiple-hit game, overall, and 14th in Sun Belt play in the ASU finale…Caleb Adams' three RBI allowed him to take over the team lead with 10 multiple-RBI games… Making his first Division I start, Ben Carter limited Arkansas State to no earned runs and three hits over five innings of work in the Cajuns 8-1 victory that completed the sweep of the Red Wolves…Carter faced the minimum in each of his final four innings on the mound…The seven-run margin of victory in the ASU finale increased the season run differential to +116 (Cajuns have outscored the opposition a combined 357-241)…The Cajuns picked up their 24th home win of the season, marking the most wins at "The Tigue" since 27 were recorded in 2005…Louisiana is now one win shy of posting the 400th victory at the "Tigue" in the Robichaux era (399-153-1)…With double digit hits each game of the Arkansas State series, the Cajuns increased their total number of games with double digit hits to 29 (26-3 record)…Louisiana scored five-plus runs each game against the Red Wolves and improved to 30-5 when scoring at least five runs…The Arkansas State series total attendance was 6,367 (2,122 avg.) marking the fifth time in seven weekend series at "The Tigue" that the total attendance exceeded 6,000...Louisiana ranks 29th nationally in average attendance at 2,145.

Louisiana-Monroe
ULM will travel to Murfreesboro, Tenn this weekend as it battles Middle Tennessee its final road series of 2013… Dalton Herrington led ULM at the plate in the finale at WKU (May 5) as he tallied two hits and one RBI… Against WKU (May 3), Corben Green snapped a recent slump at the plate as he recorded a hit in his first three at-bats en route to a three for four effort in the 3-2 win… Kodie Tidwell made his only hit of the game count against WKU as he drove in a pair in the top of the sixth to lead ULM to the 3-2 win… Cale Wine scattered two runs and 10 hits in seven innings of work as he notched his fifth win of the season at WKU (May 3)… In the finale against South Alabama (April 28), Brandon Alexander and Jeff Fuller led the team at the dish with three hits each... In the Sun Belt Game of the Week vs. South Alabama (April 27), Justin Stawychny was one of three players to have a solid performance in front of the TV cameras... The sophomore finished with three hits and scored three runs... Dalton Herrington connected on his fifth homer of the season as he totaled two hits, two RBI and two runs in the middle game of the South Alabama series... Jeff Fuller also aided the Warhawk effort at the plate vs. South Alabama (April 27) as he finished with two hits and two RBI... Brandon Alexander was one of four Warhawks to have a solid night at the plate against the Jaguars (April 26)... Alexander finished with three hits and three RBI in the opener... Taylor Abdalla, Jeff Fuller and Dalton Herrington also had strong offense performances against South Alabama (April 26)... All three Warhawks tallied two hits with Abdalla and Fuller knocking in two and Herrington scoring three runs... Justin Stawychny reached base in three of his five plate appearances (hit, two BB) and each time he got on base he scored a run... Kodie Tidwell had three hits and three RBI in the midweek finale against MVSU (April 24)... Chad Miller took the hard luck loss against the Delta Devils (April 21) as he allowed just one earned run in a career high 6.2 innings of relief work... Miller scattered five hits and two walks while recording two strikeouts during his 103-pitch performance... Justin Stawychny connected on his fifth homer of the season to give ULM a 2-0 lead over MVSU in the fourth inning (April 23)... Judd Edwards collected the only RBI that didn't come via a HR against MVSU (April 23)... Edwards RBI single through the left side scored Chet Simoneaux to put ULM ahead 3-0 in the sixth... Later in the sixth, Taylor Abdalla hit his fifth home run (three-run) of the season to give the Warhawks a 6-0 lead over the Delta Devils (April 23)... Kodie Tidwell hit the third homer (three-run) of the game in the eighth inning against MVSU to conclude the scoring in the 9-0 win (April 23).

Middle Tennessee
Ryan Stephens continues to be the Blue Raiders' most consistent hitter this season. He has a 13-game hitting streak and has reached base in 42 of the last 44 games, including a 19-game streak. After going without an extra-inning game all season, MT has played extra frames in three of the last four Sun Belt contests. The Blue Raiders played their first extra-inning game at Arkansas State on April 28, picking up the 2-1 win, then dropped a 14-inning and 10-inning contest at No. 20 South Alabama the following Saturday. Trent Miller recorded a 5-for-6 performance at No. 20 South Alabama on May 4, becoming the first Blue Raider since Justin Guidry in 2010 to have five hits in game. Miller also drove in a career-high five runs in the contest. Trent Miller and Jake Ellison each hit two home runs at Tennessee on April 30. It marked the first time since March 31, 2007, that two Blue Raiders each went yard twice in the same game. Rawley Bishop and Myles Ervin accomplished the feat against ULM. The last time it happened on the road was on April 11, 2001, when Josh Renick and Kyle Thomas each hit two homers at Cumberland. MT's bullpen was literally unhittable against Tennessee on April 23. Five Blue Raiders came out of the pen to hold the Volunteers without a hit over the final seven innings en route to the 11-5 win. Kooper Kessler picked up the win with two innings of relief, while Joey McClung, Heath Slatton, Cody Tollison and Garrett Ring also saw action. A week later, the bullpen picked up another win against the Vols, with Slatton earning the victory and Jordan Cooper collecting his first career save in the 7-6 win. It marked the fifth-straight win over Tennessee and gave the Blue Raiders a 4-1 record against the SEC this year. Second baseman Johnny Thomas and shortstop Ryan Ford have been MT's iron men throughout their careers. Thomas has started 165 consecutive games, including one at New Orleans, which ranks fifth nationally, while Ford has started 152 in a row, good for 11th in the country. It makes the duo the longest tenured infield tandem in the country.

South Alabama
No. 20 South Alabama (36-13, 17-7 SBC) won its fifth consecutive Sun Belt Conference series by taking two of three games from Middle Tennessee over the weekend at Stanky Field. After the Blue Raiders scored three runs in the top of the ninth in Friday's opener to force extra innings, the game went to the top of the 14th inning before being suspended due to rain. South Alabama answered a two-run 14th by the Blue Raiders with three runs in the bottom-half of the inning to win the series opener. The Jaguars clinched the series with a 3-2 win in 10 innings Saturday on a walk-off double by Nolan Earley. Earley recorded his 200th career hit Sunday, which came on his 50th career double. The Anderson, Ind., native is just the 10th Jaguar all-time to reach 200 career hits. He is seventh in career doubles at USA, and is 10th in career hits. Earley led the Jags with a .357 batting average last week, to go along with two doubles, four RBI and two runs scored. The series win marked the Jags' first over Middle Tennessee since 2010, and the first at Stanky Field since 2006. USA will host Southeastern Louisiana Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Stanky Field in a make-up game, before traveling to Lafayette, La., for a three-game Sun Belt Conference series with Louisiana at Lafayette this weekend.

Troy
Troy has won 16 straight home games; longest streak in the country … won 10 straight Sun Belt home games (three straight sweeps). Troy has won 11 of its last 12 games, only loss on an unearned run (1-0). Troy has won 22 of its last 27 games (four of the five losses by a combined four runs) and 24 of its last 30 games (five of the six losses by a combined six runs). Troy is 35-12 Overall and 16-8 in the Sun Belt; Troy's SBC schedule includes games AT South Alabama, Florida Atlantic, Louisiana-Lafayette and Western Kentucky (Top four teams in Sun Belt besides Troy in the standings). Troy has the BEST overall record in the Sun Belt; Troy's winning percentage is the 16th best in the NCAA. Troy ranks third in the nation averaging 8.0 runs per game. Troy ranks eighth in the country with a +3.8 scoring margin. Troy is 12-7 against the RPI top 100, 6-4 vs. RPI Top 50 and has a 28 RPI at time of e-mail (Warren Nolan). Troy is second in the Sun Belt, just one game out of first place. Trae Santos leads the Sun Belt with 14 home runs. Troy's one through five spots in the lineup combined - .352, 74 2B, 8 3B, 32 HR, 28-34 SB, .445 OBP. As a team, Troy is batting .382 with RISP and holding opponents to just .246 with RISP … Troy's starting lineup is batting .407 with RISP. Troys 2-3-4 hitters have a combined 51 2B, 7 3B, 27 HR, 171 RBIs. Troy's current starting rotation; 21-3, 3.53 ERA, 194.0 IP, 190 K, 42 BB, 4.5 K/BB. In the NCAA entering the weekend – Troy had three of the top 24 run scorers, three of the top 43 double producers, two of the top 37 home run hitters, two of the top seven and three of the top 24 RBI producers and the eighth toughest player to strikeout. Troy ranked in the top 30 in 13 offensive, defensive and pitching categories as a team; including second in doubles per game, fourth in extra-base hits, fourth in slugging percentage, seventh in strikeouts per nine and 14th in fielding. Top reliever Nate Hill over past 25 games — 13 appearances, 3-1, 3 SV, 1.21 ERA, 29.2 IP, 36 K, .149 Opponent batting average, allowed just two of 14 inherited runners to score.

Western Kentucky
The WKU baseball team hit .383 as a team over the weekend against ULM, while sporting a 2.00 ERA to take two of three from the Warhawks in Bowling Green. WKU pounded out a season-high 41 hits in the three-game series, including 30 hits in the final two games. Three different players hit over .600 for the weekend, including first baseman Ryan Huck who hit .643 with three RBI, three doubles and nine hits, including a five-hit game on Sunday – the first of his career. The Saturday and Sunday starting duo of Andrew Edwards and Justin Hageman allowed just three earned runs in the final two games of the series, with Edwards going seven innings, allowing just two hits while striking out eight, while Hageman went a season-high seven innings, allowing just one run while striking out five. WKU's two home wins over the weekend gave the Hilltoppers 18 this season with three home games still to play. If WKU can pick up a pair of wins over FAU at Nick Denes Field over the weekend, it would mark the first 20-win season at home since 2009, and the 14th in WKU baseball history. WKU has now won six-straight series at home, while winning five-straight Sun Belt Conference series at Nick Denes Field dating back to last season. The Hilltoppers will not play any midweek games during finals week, but will pick things back up over the weekend against FAU for a three-game set, with Senior Day set for Sunday.

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