Once again, the American Athletic Conference tournament is coming to USF's backyard.
Unless the Bulls take two of three at home from Wichita State this week, they’ll be observing it from their proverbial back porch.
The stakes for this series, starting Thursday at 7 at USF Baseball Stadium, are as plain as they are prodigious: The winner earns a spot in the eight-team AAC tourney, starting Tuesday at Spectrum Stadium in Clearwater.
The loser finishes ninth in the league (see the current standings here) and must endure an extra-long offseason.
USF (25-25, 7-14), decimated by injuries to its pitching staff, hasn’t failed to qualify for its postseason tournament since 2011, when it was in the Big East.
But the Bulls have won two of their last three AAC series, and are coming off an impressive effort at Connecticut (30-21, 10-11), getting consecutive quality starts from right-handers Collin Sullivan and Alec Wisely in a Saturday doubleheader sweep (by scores of 3-2 and 3-1) against the Huskies.
If the Bulls were to sweep the Shockers (23-28, 7-14), they conceivably could leapfrog UCF (31-19, 9-12) and Memphis (26-24, 9-11) for the tournament’s No. 6 seed.
Memphis is at East Carolina (39-12, 18-3) ― seventh in the latest Baseball America rankings ― this week. UCF hosts Houston (31-19, 11-10).
Contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @TBTimes_Bulls.