The Niners are set to compete for a Tournament Title this week starting on Wednesday in the Conference USA Tournament. Here is a breakdown of the tourney from a 49ers perspective.
In program history, the 49ers have raised the trophy at the end of the Metro Tournament (1993) and the Atlantic 10 Tournament (2007, 2008, 2011), but have never raised the Conference USA Tournament Trophy. In the original Conference USA (1996-2005) the 49ers advanced to the Championship game in 1997 & 1998 but fell to Houston and Tulane respectively. Since rejoining Conference USA in 2014, the 49ers advanced to the semi-finals in both 2017 & 2018, losing both times to host school Southern Miss in Biloxi. Overall, the Niners have a 14-16 record all time in the C-USA Tournament. In all conference tournaments over the years, the 49ers have an overall record of 43-49.
The 2022 Conference USA Tournament will once again be hosted by Southern Miss, but this year it will be held on campus at Pete Taylor Park. This will mark the 7th and final time that the C-USA Tournament has been played at Pete Taylor Park which holds 4,300 fans. The stadium opened in 1985 and has undergone several renovations over time including adding an artificial playing surface before the 2020 season. The dimensions of the park are 340’ down both lines and 400’ to center field.
The Conference USA Tournament is a double elimination tournament with two 4-team brackets. Only the top 8 teams in the conference qualify for the tournament meaning that Marshall, FIU, WKU, and Rice will not be participating. The winners of each bracket will face off in the Championship Game on Sunday at 1 pm CT. All games will be televised on ESPN+ and the Championship Game will be on CBS Sports Network.
The 49ers earned the 7 seed and will face 2nd seeded LaTech in their first game on Wednesday. In the other game of their bracket 3 seeded ODU will face MTSU. That will be first game of the tournament starting at 10 am ET.
The other bracket has 1 seed USM vs 8 seed UAB, & 4th seeded FAU vs 5th seeded UTSA.
#1 Southern Miss 41-14 (23-7) vs #8 UAB 30-23 (13-17)
#4 Florida Atlantic 34-21 (19-11) vs #5 UTSA 35-19 (19-11)
#2 Louisiana Tech 38-18 (20-10) vs #7 Charlotte 35-20 (17-13)
#3 Old Dominion 38-15 (19-11) vs #6 Middle Tennessee State 29-24 (17-13)
Here’s a look at how the teams in the field performed against the tourney field this year. Looks like things were very even within the two brackets this season.
SERIES RECAPS FOR THE 49ER’S BRACKET
#2 LaTech – Charlotte will face LaTech in following the ODU-MTSU game to open the tourney. The Niners and the Bulldogs are very familiar with each other as they just completed a 3 game series at the Hayes this past week.
Here’s a recap of the series: The 49ers took game 1 of the series 11-3 before falling in the final 2 games 8-3 & 14-5. Hale Sims opened, Matt Brooks closed, and Spencer Giesting threw 7 solid innings in between to win game 1 of the series for the Niners. Josh Madole had a double and 3 RBI to go with Cam Fisher’s double, HR and 3 RBI providing the offense in the victory.
A combination of LaTech’s Ryan Jennings and Kyle Crigger held the Niners bats to only 1 ER in Game 2 of the series as the Bulldogs evened the series up. Collin Kramer allowed only 2 Runs through 5 but got into some trouble in the 6th allowing 3. That turned out to be the difference in the game.
In the final game of the series LaTech jumped out to a big lead in the 1st 3 innings that was just too much to overcome. David McCabe had 2 HR and 4 RBI in the effort. The game was called early due to weather after 7 innings.
During the series LaTech went with LHP Cade Gibson, RHP Ryan Jennings, & RHP Jarret Whorff as their starters. Charlotte went with Hale Sims, Collin Kramer , and Will Lancaster.
Charlotte will face either ODU or MTSU in the second game of the tournament either in the winner’s bracket game at 12:30 CT or in the loser’s bracket at 9:00 AM CT on Thursday.
#3 ODU– Charlotte went on the road and won 2 of 3 from the Monarchs early in the conference season. Here’s a series recap: David McCabe started the series off with a solo shot in the 1st, leading to a 5 run inning for the Niners. That would be all that they would need as Giesting & AJ Wilson were strong on the mound allowing only 4 ER in the wind tunnel of Norfolk. Knight had 4 hits; Butcher, Dragum, Fisher, & Hopson each drove in 2 as the Niners win 11-4.
In game 2 Will Lancaster pitched 7.1 strong innings in the wind tunnel only allowing 5 ER. Kramer and Colby Bruce finished off the rest of the game as the 49er offense put up 13 runs in a 13-8 series clinching victory. Cam Fisher had a Double, HR and 3 RBI, Jake Cunningham drove in 4 with a double and a HR. Butcher drove in 3 and Nate Furman, Austin Knight, & Jake Cunningham all scored 3 runs each in the victory.
It took extra innings in game 3 for the Monarchs to avoid the sweep. The Monarchs jumped out to a 9-2 lead before the 49ers bounced back with a 10 run 5th inning. Josh Madole homered twice in the inning and Cunningham also left the yard again to lead the comeback. The Niners weren’t able to score after the big inning and ODU was able to scratch across an unearned run to tie it in the 8th and then won the game on a HR in the 10th. Quinton Martinez closed the game out with a strong 5 innings only allowing the HR as earned and struck out 5 in the effort.
ODU starters in the series were LHP Tommy Gertner, RHP Nick Pantos, & RHP Sam Armstrong. The Niners went with Giesting, Lancaster, & Cam Hansen.
#6 MTSU – The Niners travelled to Middle Tennessee over Easter weekend and took on the Blue Raiders. MTSU ended up taking the series 2 games to 1. Here is the series summary: In a low scoring game 1 of the series, Jake Cunningham drove in Austin Knight with a triple in the 9th to tie the game and send it to extras. Unfortunately the Raiders were able to walk it off with an RBI single in the 11th. by a score of 4-3. Will Lancaster had a solid outing going 7.1 IP, allowing only 3 ER & Colby Bruce ended the game with 2.2 IP, 0 ER, 4 K.
The Niners evened the series with a 10-5 victory after a strong outing from Hale Sims. Sims struck out 8 allowed only 1 ER on 7 Hits over 5.1 IP. Cam Fisher and Kaden Hopson each drove in 2 and Josh Madole drove in 3 in the victory.
In the rubber game, the Niners jumped out to an early lead with homers from Jack Dragum, Josh Madole, and Will Butcher, but were unable to close it out as they were victims of a 9 run 6th inning from the Blue Raiders. Dragum ended up with 2 HR on the day in the effort. The Niners lost the series despite outscoring the Blue Raiders 20-19 over the weekend.
MTSU went with RHP Zach Keenan, RHP Eriq Swan, & LHP Peyton Wiggington on the mound. Charlotte went with Lancaster, Sims, & Kramer.
The Niners would only face 1 of the other 4 teams in the championship game should they make it.
Charlotte was swept at home by Southern Miss by scores of 2-1, 8-2, 6-5 (13 Innings). USM went with Tanner Hall, Hunter Riggins, & Hurston Waldrep against CLT’s Bruce, Lancaster, & Kramer on the mound.
The Niners swept UAB at home by scores of 6-3, 8-1, & 3-2. UAB went with Jackson Reynolds, Tyler O’Clair, & Brooks Walton vs CLT’s Sims, Lancaster, & Kramer.
Charlotte took 2 of 3 At FAU with an opening win of 10-3, a marathon 15 inning loss 10-9, and a run rule win 14-4. FAU threw Hunter Cooley, Max Martzolf, & Tyler Burnham vs CLT’s Sims, Lancaster, & Lancaster. Yes he started 2 games in a row over a crazy weekend.
UTSA swept the 49ers this season down in San Antonio 13-3, 8-7, & 8-5 (7 Inn). USTA threw Luke Malone, Ryan Beaird, & Braden Davis vs CLT’s Giesting, Lancaster, & Brooks.