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UCF Baseball Drops Tournament Opener to Tulane, Faces Elimination Wednesday

Knights fall 5-2 to 3-seed Tulane, take on Memphis with season on the line

Photo: Derek Warden

The UCF Knights baseball team dropped its first game of the 2019 American Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament on Tuesday night 5-2 to the Tulane Green Wave, and will now face the 7-seed Memphis Tigers with no room for error in an elimination game on Wednesday.

UCF fell down early, but despite a heroic effort from Chris Williams on the mound, the Knights could not overcome a spectacular 136-pitch, 9-strikeout complete game from Kaleb Roper:

Williams gave up all five Green Wave runs in the first two frames before settling down and shutting out the Tigers over the next five. He struck out six. Hudson Haskin added a two-run home run for Tulane.

UCF (RPI #44) is already on the NCAA Tournament bubble, and even though Tulane (RPI #96) is too, this did not help. The Knights are now 34-21, and one more loss will eliminate them from the tournament. The Knights had the highest RPI on their side of the bracket coming in.

Now UCF will have to handle 7-seed Memphis in an elimination game on Wednesday night, 47 minutes after the conclusion of the first elimination game between 5-seed Houston and 1-seed ECU, which is scheduled for 3 p.m. Eastern.

Should UCF win on Wednesday, the Knights would next play on Friday against the loser of Thursday’s Tulane-Cincinnati game.

Next up: Memphis

Memphis lost to 2-seed Cincinnati 11-6 on Tuesday after initially jumping out to a 4-3 lead:

The Tigers are something of a pain in elimination games, having forced their way into Semifinal Saturday from the loser’s bracket in 2015 and 2016. They failed to qualify for the tournament last year, since they finished last in the league.

The likely starters for both teams will be Grant Schuermann (6-5, 3.57) for UCF and Alex Hicks (4-3, 3.86) for Memphis.

Elsewhere in Clearwater

Shockers Plunder Top-Seeded Pirates

Top-seeded ECU was upset by 8-seed Wichita State 6-2, thanks in part to a 4-run 9th inning:

UConn Walks It off against Houston

UConn knocked off Houston 4-3 in the 4/5 game on a walk-off RBI single by David Langer: