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A 6-day baseball tourney in this weather? Good luck, AAC

Weather permitting, the American Athletic Conference baseball tournament begins today in Clearwater.
CHRIS URSO   |   Times
USF outfielder Chris Chatfield (24) and the Bulls begin play in the American Athletic Conference tournament Wednesday at 11 a.m.
CHRIS URSO | Times USF outfielder Chris Chatfield (24) and the Bulls begin play in the American Athletic Conference tournament Wednesday at 11 a.m.
Published May 22, 2018|Updated May 22, 2018

Weather permitting, the American Athletic Conference baseball tournament begins this morning at Clearwater's Spectrum Field.

When it ends — or if it ends — depends on the extent of Mother Nature's mercy.

With the bay area forecast appearing more grim than a Tony LaRussa scowl, the conference has some contingency plans set for the double-elimination tournament. They include the use of adjacent fields at the complex, home to Phillies spring training.

But even those alternatives may not be enough.

Related: Forecasters monitoring system in Caribbean as rain persists across Tampa Bay

"We are fortunate in that the facility in Clearwater, and the grounds crew, handles the rain pretty well," AAC spokesman Chuck Sullivan said.

"So we remain optimistic that we would be able to get every game in. In extreme circumstances, we could have two games running simultaneously to get caught up, but we haven't had to go that route to date."

They will now.

Already, today's two contests — East Carolina-UCF and Tulane-Houston — were moved from afternoon/evening starts to 9 a.m. and noon, respectively. Game Two currently is in a weather delay.

The remaining tourney schedule also has been modified, with No. 2-seeded USF's Wednesday morning game against Wichita State moved up two hours, from 11 a.m. to 9 a.m. An elimination game — UCF against the loser of Tulane-Houston — also is scheduled for Wednesday at 9 on an adjacent field.

The modified schedule can be found here. The championship still is set for Sunday at noon.

Pushing the final to Monday — when the NCAA Tournament field will be announced — is not an option.

"In the event that the tournament cannot be completed, then no champion would be declared," Sullivan said. "The automatic bid to the NCAA Championship would go to the highest remaining seed."