USF to begin AAC Tournament on Wednesday

By Sam Newlon, Sports Editor
On May 22, 2018

USF faces Wichita State on Wednesday at 9 a.m. at Spectrum Field in Clearwater. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

After rescheduling due to projected rainstorms, USF will open their AAC Tournament Wednesday at 9 a.m. against Wichita State instead of their original 11 a.m. time slot against the Shockers.

The Bulls have the advantage of playing the closest to home of any of the teams in the tournament, which will be held at Spectrum Field in Clearwater. Entering as the No. 2 seed, the Bulls are projected to do well in the tournament, but will face an opponent who gave them trouble in the regular season it their opening game.

USF (32-18-1, 14-9-1) split a series with Wichita State (34-19-1, 9-14-1) this season with one win, one loss and one tie each. In the Bulls’ Friday matchup, Shane McClanahan was credited with the team’s loss when the team gave up 17 runs to the Shockers.

The following night, Peter Strzelecki pitched 5 innings and was credited with the win. Offensively, the team was more productive when they scored 9 runs, which dwarfed Friday night’s two-run performance.

Coach Billy Mohl, who couldn’t be reached by 8 p.m. Tuesday, has a tough decision forthcoming. Will he give the ball to McClanahan, his season-long ace who gave up 6 runs in 3 innings? Or Strzelecki, who showed he can give his team an edge over their first hurdle?

Win or lose, the Bulls will play at 4 p.m. Wednesday, either at Spectrum Field or Robin Roberts Field, which is adjacent to Spectrum Field.

If they win against Wichita State, the Bulls will play the winner of No. 6 Cincinnati and No. 3 UConn. If they lose, the Bulls will play the loser of the same game.

Because of the schedule rearrangement, there is a possibility that the Bulls will end their AAC tournament the same day they start it — two losses and the tournament is over for USF.

No. 1 seed Houston already started its uphill battle in the tournament. With their 11-6 loss to No. 8 Tulane, the Cougars fell to 1-5 in neutral site games this season.  Tulane advanced to the second day of the tournament along with ECU, which also advanced after beating UCF 8-4.

UCF and Houston will face each other at 12:30 p.m. in the first elimination game of the AAC Tournament.

To win the AAC championship, USF will need to win five of its next six games.

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