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The American in 2023: Week 4 Conference Preview

By Ashleigh Cash and Steve Parkhurst

April 20, 2023

The American Athletic Conference heads into its fourth weekend of conference action this weekend. East Carolina University currently sits in first place, with Houston one game behind them in second. Wichita State and South Florida are tied for third, whilst Tulane sits at fourth. UCF, Memphis, and Cincinnati sit in a three-way tie for last place. As of now, only one team has a conference series sweep under their belt - ECU, who has swept both UCF and Cincinnati.

Week 4 Matchups

East Carolina (29-8, 7-2) at Wichita State (21-15, 5-4)

East Carolina comes into this matchup on a nine-game winning streak, with a midweek win over Charlotte on the road. That game marked the first in a five-game road stretch for the Pirates. Three of those nine wins came via run-rule victory, and two were shutouts. Their offense has been firing on all cylinders as of late, with a team batting average of .302 - good for the best in the conference. They also lead the conference in team ERA.

Senior Carter Spivey was honored by The American as he received the honor of conference Pitcher of the Week. Spivey pitched a seven-inning complete game on Saturday against Cincinnati in East Carolina’s 10-0 shutout win. The Bearcats could only manage four hits against Spivey.

Junior Josh Moylan hit three home runs in three games last weekend, batting in eight, earning a spot on the Honor Roll in The American. East Carolina’s 4-0 week was due in part to Moylan’s .467 average to go with seven runs scored. Moylan is currently riding an on-base streak of 17 games, which dates all the way back to March 18th. Moylan is one of seven Pirates currently batting above .300.

Wichita State, who ranks second in the conference in batting average (.298) and team ERA (4.50), made the trek south to New Orleans last week. Despite losing Friday’s opener, the Shockers rallied back to take the next two games 10-9 and 7-4 to win the series - the first time they have won in New Orleans.

Junior Chuck Ingram, who continues to be a bright spot for Wichita State, was named to The American’s weekly Honor Roll on Monday. Ingram hit .556 with four doubles and two home runs, piling up five RBI for the Shockers, who went 2-2 on the week. Brock Rodden, the conference preseason player of the year, leads the Shockers in batting average (.357), RBI, and many other offensive categories. Junior Garrett Pennington is coming off a stellar offensive performance in Wichita State’s midweek win over Kansas State. He went 3-5, scoring two runs and plating four, with a double and two home runs in that 10-4 road win.

This game is sure to be one to watch.

Houston (21-16, 6-3) at Memphis (19-18, 3-6)

Houston has won all three conference series to open conference play.

Junior Zach Arnold was awarded Player of the Week honors in The American for his play last week. Arnold hit .667 with eight RBI and eight runs scored against South Florida, going 4-for-4 with two doubles in the middle game of the series. Arnold recorded a base hit in all four games played last week. Senior Ian McMillan went 5-10 in last weekend’s series, scoring three runs.

Houston two-way player Malachi Lott was recognized by the College Baseball Hall of Fame with its John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Week honor for Lott’s week against Sam Houston and South Florida. Lott hit .333 last week with a moonshot home run against USF in a 4-for-6 performance in Houston’s 16-10 Saturday win, a game in which Lott started on the mound for the Cougars. It was the second mound appearance of the week for Lott who threw 4 ⅓ innings with five strikeouts over that stretch.

Houston seems to be shifting its pitching situation right now and appears to still be looking for the right mix of arms on the mound, so predicting the rotation for this weekend is a fool's errand.

Meanwhile, Memphis is coming off a series road loss to UCF, as they went 2-2 last week. Junior Austin Baskin hit two home runs, plating five runs in last weekend’s series. Will Spears went 5-11 with three stolen bases. Memphis pitching has been up and down lately, so expect that to factor into the series this weekend.

UCF (21-16, 3-6) at USF (16-22, 5-4)

UCF catcher Andrew Sundean was among those chosen for the weekly Honor Roll in The American. Last week, Sundean hit .467 with four runs scored. Sundean also homered three times and picked up six RBI in a 3-1 week for the Knights as they won their home series against Memphis. Sophomore Cole Russo went 6-11, scoring two runs and plating one. He was a home run away from the cycle in the series opener on Friday, and he picked up hits in all three games.

USF lost their series at Houston last weekend. The Bulls won game three with a runaway 13-2 victory on Sunday to avoid being swept.

The Bulls had two players make the Honor Roll in The American. Bobby Boser led The American with five home runs and an overall average of .438 to go along with eight RBI and eight runs scored. Pitcher Jack Cebert was great against Houston in salvaging the final game of that series and avoiding the sweep. Cebert threw 7 ⅓ innings and allowed just one run on three hits as he overwhelmed the potent Cougars offense.

Tulane (11-26, 4-5) at Cincinnati (15-23, 3-6)

Tulane was hot and cold in the third week of conference play. The Green Wave hosted Wichita State and opened the weekend series with a 9-7 win on Friday. The win was actually the first loss of the season for Wichita State two-way star Payton Tolle, who saw his record fall to 6-1 in 2023. The Green Wave chased Tolle after just four innings pitched as he had allowed seven runs to that point.

Tolle was out-pitched by Tulane’s Dylan Carmouche who went seven innings and allowed just three earned runs. Carmouche struck out nine Shockers, earning his third win of the season.

In Friday’s victory, Tulane’s offense was powered by home runs from Simon Baumgardt and Brennan Lambert. Teo Banks and Brady Marget added doubles as part of a twelve hit night for the Green Wave in their only win of the weekend.

Cincinnati was swept in Greenville by the Pirates. They were run ruled twice, and shutout once, managing only 13 hits on the weekend. They were outscored 32-7.

Pitching was a struggle for the Bearcats last weekend - Cincinnati used 10 pitchers, with little success. All ten gave up a run, with seven giving up three or more runs. The lone bright spot for the Bearcats pitching staff was reliever Garrett Harker, who went 4 ⅓ innings, striking out five and giving up only one run on four hits.

Ashleigh Cash is a baseball writer, fan, and student based in eastern North Carolina.

Steve Parkhurst is a baseball writer based in Houston.

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