Baseball Heads to Hattiesburg Looking to Qualify for C-USA Championship

May 16, 2006

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ORLANDO - UCF heads into its final regular-season series of the season at Southern Miss looking to capture a spot in the 2006 Conference USA Baseball Championship. The Golden Knights (23-30, 5-16) are ninth in the league standings, but still have a chance to finish as high as seventh in the conference.

? The series at Southern Miss begins Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET from Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field in Hattiesburg. The series continues Friday at 7:30 p.m. and finishes Saturday at 2 p.m.

? The top eight teams in the C-USA standings qualify for the 2006 C-USA Championship. The championship will be held on the campus of Rice University at Reckling Park, May 24-28 in Houston.

UCF C-USA Championship Scenarios
No. 7 seed if ....
? (1) finish in a two-way tie with Marshall and UAB is lower in the standings

? (2) wins one more game than Marshall and UAB

? (3) sweeps Southern Miss, Marshall wins two or fewer games and UAB does not sweep

? (4) wins two more games than Marshall and one more game than UAB

No. 8 seed if ....
? (1) finish in a three-way tie with Marshall and UAB

? (2) wins one or more games than Marshall and one fewer game than UAB

? (3) wins one more game than UAB and Marshall wins one more game than UCF

Does not qualify for championship if ....
? (1) swept by Southern Miss and UAB and Marshall win one game

? (2) finish in a two-way tie with UAB and Marshall is higher in the standings

? (3) win one game at Southern Miss and UAB and Marshall both win two games

? (4) win two games and UAB and Marshall both sweep

Inside the Series
? UCF and Southern Miss have met just three times on the baseball diamond, with Southern Miss holding a 2-1 series advantage.

? All three games in the series were played in Hattiesburg during the 1988 campaign.

? UCF won the series opener 14-1 over USM on May 6, 1988. USM came back to win game two of the series 7-4 on May 7 and earned the series victory with an 11-9 win over the Golden Knights on May 8.

? UCF head coach Jay Bergman is 1-2 in his coaching career vs. Southern Miss.

The Book on Southern Miss
? One week after playing one of the league's top offensive units in Memphis, the Golden Knights face the top offense in the league this weekend at Southern Miss. The potent Golden Eagle offense leads C-USA in batting (.318), slugging percentage (.500), on-base percentage (.413), runs scored (430), RBI (389), home runs (72) and total bases (927).

? Southern Miss (34-19, 10-11 C-USA) is still in the race to capture the No. 4 seed in the conference championship.

? Toddric Johnson leads C-USA in runs scored (56) and hits (80). Johnson is batting .367 with 10 homers and 46 RBI in 53 games this season.

? On the mound, USM sports a team ERA of 4.90 in 459 innings of work. The Golden Eagle pitching staff has totaled 365 strikeouts in 2006 and opponents are batting .287 vs. USM.

? Southern Miss will start the series with redshirt sophomore RHP Barry Bowden on the mound. Bowden is 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 42 innings of work.

? USM has yet to announce a starter for Friday.

? The Golden Eagles close out the series Saturday with junior RHP Cliff Russum on the bump. Russum is 6-5 with a 4.14 ERA in 76 innings. Opponents are batting just .243 off the right-hander.

? Head coach Corky Palmer is in his ninth season at the helm of the Southern Miss baseball program. Palmer has guided USM to three straight 40-win seasons and three consecutive NCAA appearances.

Starting on the Mound for UCF
? Junior left-hander Brian Brooks will start the series opener for the Golden Knights Thursday. Brooks will make his first start of the season after appearing in 21 games out of the bullpen.

? Brooks is 2-1 with a 4.46 ERA in 36.1 innings of work. The southpaw finished with a career-high seven strikeouts in 5.1 innings of relief vs. Memphis last weekend.

? Brooks will make his first start since April 10, 2004 at No. 24 Florida Atlantic. Brooks, who has appeared in 62 career games, will be making just his third career start.

? Freshman All-America candidate Mitch Houck will start on the mound Friday night for the Golden Knights. Houck has pitched extremely well down the stretch for the Golden Knights, limiting No. 1 Rice and No. 10 Houston to just one run in 11.1 innings of work.

? Houck is 3-2 with a 3.48 ERA in 62.0 innings of work. He is second the staff in ERA, strikeouts (68) and third in innings pitched (62.0).

? Houck leads C-USA with seven pickoffs.

? Junior All-America candidate Tim Bascom will take to the hill in the series finale on Saturday. Bascom missed his last start vs. Memphis due to a knee contusion.

? Bascom is 5-5 with a 1.82 ERA in 13 starts this season. In 79 innings, he has 90 strikeouts and opponents are batting .200 against him.

? In C-USA, Bascom ranks fourth in ERA (1.82), fourth in opponent batting average (.200), eighth in innings pitched (79.0) and fourth in strikeouts (90).

On the Road ...
? UCF is batting .284 on the road in 18 games this season.

? Tyson Auer leads the team with a .418 batting average on the road.

? UCF's pitching staff sports a team ERA of 4.59 away from home. In 153 innings, the Golden Knight pitching staff has 121 strikeouts.

? Mitch Houck is 2-0 with a 1.90 ERA on the road. In 23.2 innings, he has held the opposition to a .184 batting average and just 14 hits and 22 strikeouts.

? Junior IF Matt Ray had a career night May 13 vs. Memphis. Ray, a native of Riceville, Tenn., finished a perfect 5-for-5 with a run scored vs. the Tigers.

? The five hits were a new career-high for Ray. It also marked a season-high in hits in a game for a Golden Knight.

? Ray was 8-for-13 (.615) in the Memphis series with three runs scored.

Wear It!
? Ryan Bono became UCF's all-time leader after he was hit by a pitch for the 47th time in his career at Tulane on April 15. Bono moved past current assistant coach Rich Wallace (2000-03) for the top spot in the UCF annals.

? Bono is fourth in UCF history with 52 doubles.

? The Lake Mary native has appeared in 222 career games, eighth all-time in UCF history.

? Bono is seventh in career history in at-bats (712, 10th in hits (214) and 10th in RBI (133).