Favorites, Upstarts Alike Earn Bids

Two of the heaviest favorites in conference tournaments cruised to championships this afternoon. Charlotte romped through the Atlantic-10 tournament, outscoring its opponents by a margin of 44-9 en route to its first A-10 title. Going back to the 49ers’ final regular-season series against Richmond, they have outscored their opponents 64-11 in their last six games. In the Mid-Continent tournament, Oral Roberts outscored its opponents 33-3 in three games and captured its 10th straight conference championship. The Golden Eagles have won 16 straight.

In the Big East, second-seeded Rutgers held off No. 8 Connecticut by an 8-7 score to win its third conference title. The red-hot Todd Frazier went deep again for the Scarlet Knights, giving him 22 on the season. Rutgers winning is very good news for Louisville and St. John’s, who are both likely to receive at-large bids. One of them might have been squeezed out if UConn had won.

Le Moyne won its fourth Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion by toppling defending champion Manhattan 9-7. Dolphins ace Bobby Blevins could be this year’s Chris Cody–the Manhattan lefthander who shut down Nebraska in regionals a year ago. Though he’s not a lefty, Blevins is very competitive and experienced, just like Cody was.

In the Mid-American Conference final, second-seeded Kent State kept its hot streak going and beat top-seeded Eastern Michigan 3-2. The Golden Flashes went 4-0 in the tournament and have now won 16 of their last 17 games. Kent State is a young team with a lot of talent, and the Flashes only get more dangerous as their confidence grows late in the season. Could be a regional sleeper.

Finally, upstart Sam Houston State completed its unbeaten run through the Southland Conference tournament with a 3-1 win over Texas State. The fourth-seeded Bearkats had to beat the top three seeds in the tournament, including two games against No. 3 Texas State. Sam Houston closer Luke Prihoda picked up his nation-leading 17th save the easy way, working just a third of an inning. You can’t begrudge Prihoda his cheapy, though–the No. 3 prospect in the Coastal Plain League last summer worked 2 2/3 scoreless innings in a 2-0 win against Texas State on Wednesday and worked three more scoreless frames in a 5-4 win against top-seeded Texas-San Antonio yesterday.