Delaware, Wofford Going For Broke

To this point, you probably only know the name “Mike McGuire” as the home run-hitting companion to “Sammy Sooser” in Ted Kennedy’s slightly confused world. But Delaware has a pretty darn good 6-foot-7 righthander named McGuire, and he very nearly threw a no-hitter against Old Dominion in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament yesterday. McGuire lost his no-hitter bid with one out in the ninth inning, but his seven-strikeout, one-hit shutout was more than enough to beat ODU 4-0 and propel the Blue Hens to the championship round today against Virginia Commonwealth. Delaware needs to beat VCU twice today to win the title and claim the league’s automatic bid, but the unbeaten Rams can punch their ticket with just one win. With a low-90s fastball and a power curve, McGuire could be trouble for somebody should Delaware make a regional.

Elsewhere, the amazing Wofford Terriers are making retiring coach Steve Traylor’s send-off a memorable one. Seeded ninth in the 10-team Southern Conference tournament, Wofford has won its first four SoCon tourney games and sits just one win away from capturing the league’s automatic bid. Wofford started its run with a win against Furman in a play-in game behind seven strong innings from ace Ben Austin, who started in right field his first two years at Wofford before bunting a ball off his eye in practice last year, causing the Terriers to move him to the mound. Austin came back yesterday on short rest and threw 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball as Wofford beat The Citadel. The junior righthander improved to 11-5, 4.03 in 103 innings this year.

On Thursday, Wofford beat UNC Greensboro 12-5 behind four solid innings from Adam Kearney, who was the Terriers’ starting catcher to start the year before moving to the bullpen when injuries struck. Now he’s their No. 3 starter. Of course, it helps that Wofford’s bats are giving its pitchers plenty of run support. The Terriers have hit 104 home runs this season, tied with South Carolina for the most in the nation. Leading the way is junior third baseman Brandon Waring, who has gone 12-for-21 in the tournament with four home runs (tied for the tourney record) and 14 RBIs (one shy of the tournament record). He’s now batting .403/.521/.862 with 26 homers and 71 RBIs in 211 at-bats.

Wofford, the only unbeaten team left in the tournament, will go for the SoCon title this afternoon against the winner of the Elon-Citadel game (the Bulldogs lead 4-0 in the sixth). Whichever team emerges will have to beat Wofford twice.

I’m back in Greenville today for the Conference USA tournament, where Memphis stayed alive with a 2-1 win against Rice this morning on the strength of a pair of solo home runs. The Tigers will get another crack at the Owls this afternoon, when lefthander Joe Savery takes the mound for Rice. In between, Tulane will try to keep its run through the loser’s bracket alive, as it takes on unbeaten East Carolina. The Pirates capitalized on three Tulane errors to get three runs in the first, but the Green Wave has knotted the score at 3-3 as we head to the sixth.

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