IRVING, Texas – Following its extra inning walk-off series win over UTSA, East Carolina will take aim for its first post-season league title since 2002 when it opens play as the No. 6 seed at the 2014 Conference USA Baseball Championships. The five-day event will start Wednesday, May 21 and run through Sunday, May 25 at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg, Miss.
The Pirates (32-24), who are 19-20 all-time in C-USA post-season action, will open the championships against host and No. 3 seed Southern Miss (32-23) on Wednesday, May 21 at 8:30 p.m. (ET). The two teams met in Hattiesburg just two weeks ago, with the Golden Eagles taking the final two games of the series after the Pirates grabbed the opener in 15 innings. This will mark the fifth time in six years that the two clubs squared off in the C-USA Championship.
For the eighth time in their nine years as a member of Conference USA, Rice has won at least a share of the league's regular season crown, taking its sixth outright title to earn the No. 1 seed. For Rice (37-17), it marks the 19th consecutive season that the Owls have won a conference regular season or tournament championship, dating back to 1995, the final year of the Southwest Conference.
The tournament will begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday when No. 5 seed Old Dominion (33-21) faces No. 4 seed Middle Tennessee (30-25). The Blue Raiders won two-of-three from the Monarchs in Murfreesboro, Tenn., in late April, giving them the edge in the tiebreaker between the schools.
Top-seeded Rice will open up against No. 8 seed FIU (36-18) at 1:30 p.m. The Owls swept a three-game series from the Panthers in Miami in March. Rice owns a 23-7 all-time record in the C-USA Championship.
UAB (35-19) is the No. 2 seed, its lowest seed in 19 years as a member of C-USA, and the Blazers will play the 5 p.m. game against No. 7 seed UTSA (32-24). UAB, which won the tournament in 2012, did not meet UTSA during the regular season.
The Championship will feature the top eight teams in regular-season league play and the format returns to two double-elimination brackets, with a single-elimination championship game. This year's tournament marks the first time in league history that all eight participating teams have won 30 or more games.
Wednesday, May 21
Game 1 – (5) Old Dominion vs. (4) Middle Tennessee at 10 a.m.
Game 2 – (8) FIU vs. (1) Rice at 1: 30 p.m.
Game 3 – (7) UTSA vs. (2) UAB at 5 p.m.
Game 4 – (6) East Carolina vs. (3) Southern Miss at 8:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 22
Game 5 – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 at 10 a.m.
Game 6 – Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 at 1:30 p.m.
Game 7 – Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 at 3 p.m.
Game 8 – Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 at 8:30 p.m.
Friday, May 23
Game 9 – Winner Game 5 vs. Winner game 6 at 4 p.m.
Game 10 – Loser Game 7 vs. Loser game 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 24
Game 11 – Winner Game 7 vs. Winner game 9 at 10 a.m.
Game 12 – Winner Game 8 vs. Winner game 10 at 1:30 p.m.
Game 13 – Same teams as Game 11 at 5 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 14 – Same teams as Game 12 at 8:30 p.m. (if necessary)
Sunday, May 25 (televised by CBS Sports Network)
Championship Game at 2 p.m.
All Times Eastern
Each game of the championship from Wednesday through Saturday will be streamed live on the C-USA Digital Network. The championship game of the tournament on Sunday, May 25 will be televised live by CBS Sports Network, beginning at 2 p.m. (ET). The tournament champion receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. Rice is the defending tournament champion.
The 2014 Conference USA Championship marks a return to Hattiesburg, Miss. for the fourth time in the league's history. Southern Miss also hosted the 1996, 2005 and C-USA Championships at Pete Taylor Park.