April 19, 2012
Apr. 20 (Fri.) 6:30 pm; Rice vs. East Carolina
Title Sponsor: Residence Inn & Courtyard
The Roost Special: The Frankie B. Mandola Italian Sub
Watch it on the web
GameTracker (activates at game time)
Apr. 21 (Sat.) 2 pm; Rice vs. East Carolina
Title Sponsor: Papa John's
Special Promotion: Kids Take Over The Park! This fan (and kid) favorite is now in its 12th year! You can now register your child to participate online..
Special Give-away #1: Rice sunglasses for the first 250 students (students only)
Special Give-away #2: Rice trading card strip (#2) while supplies last
The Roost Special: Join the Owl Club Tailgate beginning at 12:30 pm
Special guests: The Southwest Dairy Farmers will have their mobile dairy classroom set-up outside Reckling Park for fans to enjoy before the game.
Watch it on the web
GameTracker (activates at game time)
Apr. 22 (Sun.) 11 am; Rice vs. East Carolina
Special Promotion: Houston Zoo Kids Day! At every Sunday home game all kids 14 and under get to take the field for the National Anthem and run the bases post-game.
Concession Specials: breakfast tacos and mimosas until noon; $2 ice cream sundaes
Watch it on the web
GameTracker (activates at game time)
All times listed are Central Time. Internet features activate at game time.
Owls Open 11-Game Homestand Friday vs. East Carolina
The No. 7 ranked Rice baseball team, 28-11 overall and tied for first place in Conference USA with a 9-3 league record, opens an 11-game homestand at Reckling Park on Friday (April 20). Rice returns to C-USA action with a three-game weekend series against East Carolina. Game times against the Pirates (26-11-1 and third in the conference at 8-3-1) are slated for 6:30 pm on Friday, 2 pm on Saturday and 11 am on Sunday. Note that Sunday's 11 am start is a change from some earlier listings... The current homestand lasts until mid May. Prior to Friday Rice had played seven of the last eight games away from home.
Look Out! Kids Are Taking Over The Park On April 21
This fan-favorite is now in its 12th year at Reckling Park. On Saturday, April 21, kids will be taking over Reckling Park and doing a number of performing game-day duties at the stadium. Kids who have sign-up in advance will be serving as: ticket takers, ushers, helping in the team store, field prep, internet broadcast, music/PA, program sales and in-game promotions. Don't miss one of most memorable days at the stadium, now in its 12th year!
Watch Rice Games On OwlVision All Access
Most home baseball games (and all Conference USA league games) are slated for a live on-line video broadcast by OwlVision All Access. OwlVision is a subscription-based service which matches the play-by-play audio with a video feed to create a television-like broadcast on the Internet (either live or in an archived format). The service has been growing in popularity the last few years. Information about the service and subscription prices are available here. Access the service on game day at the above links.
Audio Broadcasts - Catch Every Rice Baseball Game On The Web & At The Park
Every Rice baseball game this season will be broadcast live around the world on the Internet at RiceOwls.com. Use the above link to access the Internet audio page. Tune-in to the pregame show 30 minutes before each game's first pitch. Fans attending the games can now listen to the Rice broadcast at the stadium where the team plays via an FM proximity transmitter. The frequency for in-stadium broadcast at Reckling Park is 99.7 FM.
Live Stats On GameTracker
Live play-by-play text and statistics from every game will be posted on RiceOwls.com. Look for the GameTracker links on the Rice Athletics front page, the weekly series preview, or the baseball schedule page.
National Ranking Update Rice Moves Up To No. 7
Rice was ranked in the Top 10 of a host of different polls to start the 2012 campaign. This week the Owls climbed in three of five polls. Here's a closer look at the latest rankings:
|Poll||This Week||Last Week|
|Collegiate Baseball Magazine||11||13|
Rice University Centennial; 96th Season On The Baseball Field
Rice University is celebrating its centennial in 2012. Rice Owl baseball made its debut in the spring of 1913, just one semester after the school (then The Rice Institute) opened its doors for higher education in the fall of 1912. The 2012 season is, however, only the Owls' 96th season playing on the diamond. The school cancelled its baseball season in 1919 and did not field a team for three years (1933-35) during the Great Depression. Rice returned to the diamond in the spring of 1936 and has been playing ever since... The Rice baseball program's all-time record is 1,847 - 1,481- 9.
Head Coach Wayne Graham
Four-time national coach of the year and soon-to-be 2012 College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Graham (Texas, 1970) is in his 21st season at Rice. The 2012 campaign marks his 32nd year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 940-372 with the Owls (565-132 at home, 285-188 in road games and 90-52 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .716, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .716 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 116 games in a single year... Graham's record vs. this weekend's opponent is: 17-4 vs. East Carolina (8-1 home, 8-2 away, 1-1 neutral)... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2011, making 17-straight seasons for Rice to earn an NCAA appearance. The Blue & Gray has advanced into the NCAA tournament in 1995-96-97-98-99-00-01-02-03-04-05-06-07-08-09-10-11. The 2003 bid culminated with the Owls' first national championship... Rice played in the 1994-95-96 Southwest Conference tournaments (winning the final league title in `96), won the 1997-98-99 WAC tournaments, shared the 2000 WAC title with San Jose State before winning the 2001-02-03-04-05 titles outright. He won (or shared) C-USA regular season crowns in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011 as well as the C-USA tournament championships in `06, `07, `09 and `11... Graham was named the WAC Coach of the Year in 1998, `99, `02 and the Co-Coach of the Year in `03. He was named the Keith LeClair C-USA Coach of the Year in `06, his first year in the league, and again in `07, `08 and `10... Rice has seven appearances in the NCAA College World Series under Graham (1997, `99, `02, `03, `06, `07, `08)... Graham has led the Owls to number-one rankings for seven weeks during the 1999 season, for six weeks during the `01 campaign, two weeks in `02, six weeks in 2003 (the last of which established some staying power), three weeks in 2004, 12 weeks in 2006 and five weeks in `07... Graham's San Jacinto Gators dominated the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., in the 1980s, winning five national titles in six years (1985-86-87, 89-90)... The Austin American-Statesman named Graham its SWC Coach of the Year in `95 after he led the Owls to their first NCAA tournament appearance... Collegiate Baseball was especially cognizant of Graham's efforts at San Jac. He was named the newspaper's Coach of the Decade for all levels in the 1980s after winning those five junior college national titles, and CB tabbed him the NJCAA Coach of the Century... He was named the 2007 Division I college Coach of the Year by FieldTurf... One of the few current collegiate coaches to have played in the major leagues (N.Y. Mets in 1963, Philadelphia in 1964), Graham is aided by assistant coaches Mike Taylor (Prairie View A&M, 1997; 12th year), Patrick Hallmark (Rice, 1995, Brown College; seventh year), and Clay Van Hook (Texas, 2008; first year)... On game days Hallmark coaches at third base while Van Hook coaches at first base.
1,514 Wins A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 940 career wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,514 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall collegiate record is 1,514-485 in a 31-year career that began in 1981.
Wayne Graham To Be Inducted Into College Baseball Hall of Fame
HOUSTON - Only a few hours before the nationally-ranked Rice baseball team was to take the field against the University of Texas in Friday's final game of the College Classic Tournament (March 2), Owl head coach Wayne Graham was announced as one of seven inductees into College Baseball Hall of Fame later this summer... Coach Graham is part of an impressive class of inductees who will officially join the College Baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock, Tex., on June 29-30. The 2012 inductees include Lou Brock, a Major League Hall of Famer who was a collegiate star at Southern University in 1958-60; Ed Cheff, who won 16 NAIA national championships coaching at Lewis Clark State from 1977-2010; Nomar Garciaparra, a three-time All-America selection at Georgia Tech who went on to make six all-star games during a 14-year major league career; Tim Jorgensen, a two-time Division III National Player of the Year and All-American at Wisconsin-Oshkosh; Brad Wilkerson, a three-time All-America selection and 1998 National Player of the Year from the University of Florida; and the late Frank Sancet, who coached at Arizona for 23 seasons where he led the Wildcats to the College World Series ten times... The Owls' head coach is already a member of three other Halls of Fame. Currently in his 21st year at the helm of the Rice program, and his 32nd as a collegiate head coach, Graham has already been inducted into the Junior College Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Col. (1995), the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame in Fort Worth (2003) and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in Waco (2005)... At Rice, Graham has led the Blue & Gray to an NCAA Regional for each of the last 17 years. Not only has the baseball program won at least 40 games in each of the last 17 seasons, Rice has won or shared 16-consecutive conference championships (including regular season and/or conference tournament titles). Rice has maintained the nation's best composite Division I baseball win-percentage (.742) since 1999, a comprehensive 13-year span that marks the first year the NCAA adopted its current 64-team/Super Regional format for the NCAA Tournament... "It's a unique event and I appreciate the honor very much," said coach Graham. "At a time like this you think about who helped get you there. The players who have performed well to allow you to have some success, but also my wife and family who have had to make a lot of sacrifices to make it possible for this to happen. I'm very grateful for everyone who has been involved... "It's a great honor to be associated with the other members of this Hall of Fame class," coach Graham added. "They are great baseball-people with a love and talent for the game."... Rice Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan said Graham's induction is well-deserved... "Wayne Graham's accomplishments throughout his career are obviously worthy of a place in the College Baseball Hall of Fame," Greenspan said. "His accomplishments at San Jacinto were legendary on their own merits and in his 21 seasons at Rice, he has created an exemplary program that has been dominant on the field and in the classroom." A National Board Member of the College Baseball Foundation, Greenspan noted that Graham's legacy continues to grow. "The 2012 Rice Owls are again among the best teams in the nation, adding yet another chapter to an amazing career."... Graham has long-been an example of coaching excellence, but he's far from finished.
Probable Rice Pitchers
Wayne Graham announced the Owls' probable starting pitchers to face East Carolina as the right-handed trio of senior Matthew Reckling (6-0, 1.66), sophomore Austin Kubitza (4-3, 3.83) and redshirt junior Andrew Benak (5-1, 2.56), respectively.
J.T. Chargois Named To National Watch List For Stopper of the Year Award
WICHITA, Kan. - Rice junior J.T. Chargois has been named to the midseason watch list for the annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, presented to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball, the NCBWA announced April 19... Chargois notched his Conference USA-leading eighth save of the season with a dramatic shutout inning of work to close out Rice's thrilling 5-4 upset of No. 2 ranked Texas A&M Tuesday (April 17) night on the road in College Station. The right-hander from Sulphur, La., struck out both of the final two batters of the game to stop an Aggie rally with two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth inning. The A&M save was his fourth-straight in his last four outings. Chargois has also posted saves against Stanford, Tulane, Texas State, Marshall, New Mexico State and Dallas Baptist (twice). He has maintained a 2.66 ERA in a total of 23.2 innings over 18 appearances and held all opposing hitters to a composite .188 batting average... Nominations for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award were made by baseball sports information/media relation contacts and more than 90 nominations were received. At the conclusion of the regular season, the Division I national saves leader and four other relief pitching standouts will be selected as finalists and released June 6 prior to start of NCAA Super Regional tournament competition. The NCBWA's All-America Committee will select the winner, with this year's recipient to be announced during the 2012 College World Series... Texas hurler J. Brent Cox won the inaugural Stopper of the Year Award in 2005, with Don Czyz of Kansas claiming the honor in 2006, Luke Prihoda of Sam Houston State winning it in 2007, Georgia's Joshua Fields topping the field in 2008, San Diego State's Addison Reed grabbing the honor in 2009, Texas' Chance Ruffin earning the honor in 2010 and Texas freshman Corey Knebel winning it last season... The NCBWA, founded in 1962, presents the Dick Howser Trophy to the nation's top player. It also selects All-America Teams for all Divisions, a Division I Freshman All-American team, Division I and III Players of the Week, Division I District Players of the Year and Division III Players of the Year. For more information on the NCBWA Stopper of the Year, contact Tami Cutler at Wichita State at 316-978-5559 or Russ Anderson at Conference USA at 214-774-1300.
Previous Outing: Rice Defeats No. 2 Texas A&M Tuesday Night In College Station
COLLEGE STATION - The Rice. The Rice baseball team rallied from a three-run deficit to claim a 5-4 road victory over No. 2 ranked Texas A&M Tuesday night (April 17) at Blue Bell Park in College Station, Texas... Rice quickly struck for a run in the top of the first inning. Craig Manuel drew a bases-loaded walk after Texas A&M had already surrendered a hit to Ford Stainback, hit one and walked another... Texas A&M scored four runs in the bottom of the frame after sending eight men to the plate. The big hits were a triple by Tyler Naquin to score two, and a RBI double by Matt Juengel. The Aggies had in fact brought the first three batters around to score, and still had men on second and third, before the Owls could get the first out of the inning... Rice brought John Simms out of the bullpen and the sophomore right-hander not only worked out of the jam, he helped keep the Owls in the game with standout effort. Simms scattered just three hits over the next 6.0 innings without any walks and striking out eight... The Blue & Gray came right back with a run in the top of the second to begin the comeback. Michael Fuda singled to the hole at short and moved into scoring position with a stolen base. He was able to score easily on a Stainback double to right-center that made it 4-2... The Owls cut the margin to one with another score in the fourth. Shane Hoelscher coaxed a leadoff walk and went to second on a base hit by Stainback. Hoelscher alertly hustled to third on an Aggie fielding error on the play, however, and the extra base proved to be big. He scored when Michael Ratterree reached on a fielder's choice for a 4-3 game... Rice tied it, 4-4, the top of the eighth. Hoelscher singled up the middle and Stainback followed with a double to right-center for his fourth hit of the night. With runners on second and third, Hoelscher dashed home on a one-out sacrifice fly by Christian Stringer... The Owls took the lead in the ninth. Craig Manuel started it off with a base hit to center and pinch hitter Derek Hamilton was plunked by a pitch. Hoelscher singled to left with one out for the go-head RBI and a new 5-4 game... With no shortage of drama, Texas A&M put runners on first and second base after a leadoff walk and a one-out fielding error. Closer was J.T. Chargois responded with two strikeouts to end the game for a Rice victory. The Owls improved to 28-11 on the season. Texas A&M dropped to 28-9 overall... "We did not get off to a good start, but we were able to come back and get an important win," said Rice head coach Wayne Graham. "The bullpen pitched well and obviously John (Simms) was outstanding. A win like this can certainly help your RPI (ratings power index), but we still could have done some things better in the game. We have to build on this for the (upcoming) conference games."
Here's Who's Hot
Rice has won each of its last six games and junior outfielder Jeremy Rathjen is batting .455 (10-for-22) during that stretch. In that short sampling of games Rathjen has two doubles, a triple and home run for a .773 slugging percentage. He also has six RBI, scored five times and maintained a .571 on-base average... If you're only as good as your last outing (Part I), freshman Ford Stainback collected a career-best four hits with two doubles Tuesday night against Texas A&M. He also drew a walk, drove in a run and scored against the Aggies... If you're only as good as your last outing (Part II), sophomore Shane Hoelscher went 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored Tuesday against the Aggies... Geoff Perrott has hit well coming off the bench and in spot starts the last few weeks. Put it all together and the junior catcher is now 5-for-his-last-13 (.385) with three doubles, four runs scored and three walks for a .500 on-base percentage...
Did You Know?
The Owls are 26-0 when leading after the seventh inning. Credit some solid late-inning work by the Rice bullpen, including relievers Tyler Duffey, John Simms, Taylor Wall and J.T. Chargois, as a few of the key contributors to the team's success.
Record At 39 Games
Rice is 28-11, the team's best record through 39 games since a 29-10 ledger in 2009. That 2009 Owl squad began the year 29-10 on the way to a 43-18 season that included the C-USA Tournament Championship and NCAA Regional Championship.
Seven For The Show
Seven former Rice players began this season on major league rosters. The 2012 list includes Lance Berkman (Cardinals), Tim Byrdak (Mets), Philip Humber (White Sox), Lucas Luetge (Mariners), Jeff Niemann (Rays), Joe Savery (Phillies) and David Aardsma (on the Yankees' disabled list).
Rice's Televised Games In 2012
HOUSTON - Rice Athletics has announced its preliminary lineup of Owl baseball games that will be televised in the upcoming 2012 season. There are 11 Rice games tabbed for a television broadcast by a host of national networks. The number of televised games could still increase during the course of the year, including games in the C-USA Championship where the May 27 Final is set for a broadcast on CBS College Sports... Rice's televised games begin in March. All three Rice games from the Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park were broadcast by either ESPN 3 (vs. Texas Tech and Tennessee) and/or The Longhorn Network (vs. Texas). Eight regular season home games from Reckling Park will be televised beginning on March 13. Note there will be a new start time on four of the home games to accommodate the broadcast of contests with Arizona (Mar. 13), Texas State (April 10), and Stephen F. Austin (May 8) - all of which are now 6 pm starts... Rice's May 5 game vs. crosstown rival Houston now begins at 1:30 pm. All three C-USA league games against UH in May will be televised. Rice baseball returns to play on familiar networks with games on CSS Sports, Fox Sports Net, and Fox College Sports. The full 2012 TV lineup for Rice baseball is listed below.
Rice's 2012 Games Selected For Television Broadcast
March 2 vs. Texas - 7 pm Longhorn Network
March 3 vs. Texas Tech - 7 pm ESPN 3
March 4 vs. Tennessee - 6 pm ESPN 3
March 13 vs. Arizona - 6 pm* CSS Sports
March 14 vs. Arizona - 6:30 pm CSS Sports
April 1 vs. Southern Miss - 1 pm FOX Sports Net
April 10 vs. Texas State - 6 pm* CSS Sports
May 4 vs. Houston - 6:30 pm FOX College Sports
May 5 vs. Houston - 1:30 pm FOX Sports Net
May 6 vs. Houston - 1 pm CSS Sports
May 8 vs. Stephen F. Austin - 6 pm* CSS Sports
(May 27 C-USA Championship - 1 pm) CBS College Sports
* - denotes a new starting time
The C-USA Favorites
IRVING, Tex. - With four preseason all-conference honorees the Rice baseball team was picked to finish first in the league in the annual Conference USA head coaches' poll, the C-USA office announced on Jan. 26. Rice returns 22 experienced lettermen to the roster in 2012, including eight returning starters in the field and a host of veteran pitchers. The Owls have a highly-touted group of incoming freshmen players making their Division I debut this spring. The Owls were ranked sixth in Baseball America's preseason poll and seventh by Collegiate Baseball.
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Rice (8)
2. UCF (1)
3. East Carolina
4. Southern Miss
(first place votes in parentheses)
2012 CONFERENCE USA PRESEASON BASEBALL AWARDS
(as selected by C-USA's head coaches)
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
D.J. Hicks, UCF (Junior, Designated Hitter/Pitcher)
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Austin Kubitza, Rice (Sophomore, Right-hander)
P Kevin Brandt Sr. East Carolina
P Austin Kubitza So. Rice
P Dillon Napoleon Sr. UAB
RP Tyler Duffey Jr. Rice
C Jeremy Schaffer Sr. Tulane
C Zach Wright Sr. East Carolina
IF Chase Jensen Jr. Houston
IF Darnell Sweeney Jr. UCF
IF Corey Thompson Sr. East Carolina
IF Jacob Wilson Sr. Memphis
OF Kameron Brunty Sr. Southern Miss
OF Jeremy Rathjen Jr. Rice
OF Michael Ratterree Jr. Rice
OF Ronnie Richardson Jr. UCF
DH/UT D.J. Hicks Jr. UCF
Nation's Top Win Percentage From 1999 To 2011
Using the 1999 season as the starting point (the year the NCAA expanded the postseason tournament field to 64 teams with the current Super Regional format), Rice baseball has maintained the nation's top win percentage. Here's a closer look at the country's winningest programs from 1999 to 2011: (This list does not include any 2012 results.)
Team, Wins-Loses-Ties (Pct.)
Rice, 635-221-0 (.742)
Florida State, 651-227-1 (.741)
Oral Roberts, 561-224-0 (.715)
Texas, 614-247-1 (.713)
Coastal Carolina, 573-234-0 (.710)
North Carolina, 589-246-1 (.705)
Cal State Fullerton, 579-244-0 (.704)
Arizona State, 531-224-1 (.703)
South Carolina, 612-261-0 (.701)
Miami, 565-246-3 (.696)
Wichita State, 598-276-0 (.684)
Georgia Tech, 551-255-1 (.683)
LSU, 558-276-5 (.668)
Clemson, 566-288-1 (.663)
Nebraska, 527-268-2 (.662)
Tulane, 532-275-2 (.659)
Stanford, 527-274-2 (.658)
East Carolina, 519-271-0 (.657)
Notre Dame, 511-271-5 (.652)
Coll. of Charleston, 487-279-0 (.636)
Florida, 517-300-2 (.632)
TCU, 498-290-0 (.632)
Southern Miss, 503-296-0 (.630)
Alabama, 508-300-0 (.629)
Virginia, 498-294-2 (.628)
Postseason Streak At 17-Straight, Looking For 18
The Rice baseball program has made 17-consecutive appearances in the NCAA Baseball Championship, which ranks as the fourth-longest active streak in the country. Miami (Fla.) made the field for the 39 consecutive years, extending its own record, followed by Florida State (34) and Cal State Fullerton (20). Rice's 17-straight NCAA Tournament appearances is tied for the seventh-longest national postseason streak in Division I history (with LSU, 1989-2005).
Conference Championship Streak At 16-Straight, Looking For 17
Rice has won or shared a total of 16-straight conference championships (including either regular season or conference tournament titles) dating back to 1996. The streak covers the Owls' membership in three different leagues beginning with the Southwest Conference, to nine seasons in the Western Athletic Conference (1997-2005) and six Conference USA titles in as many years. In 2011 the Blue & Gray tied for the C-USA regular season co-championship (with Southern Miss) before winning the tournament title in late May.
17-Straight 40-Win Seasons
Rice has clinched 17th-straight seasons with at least 40 wins. `Forty' wins actually short-changes the feat a little. The Owls have secured at least 42 wins in 16 of the last 17 years.
19-Straight 30-Win Seasons
Rice has reached the 30-win plateau for 19th-straight seasons. Only five other schools in the country have longer active streaks of having won at least 30 games: Arizona State (now 49 years), Miami-Fla. (41 years), Clemson and Cal State Fullerton (both 37 years), and Georgia Tech (29).
Welcome Back Rice Baseball Alumni
Over 100 Rice baseball lettermen, from as far back as the 1940s to the recent College World Series teams, were on hand Feb. 4 at Reckling Park as the Rice Owls baseball program celebrated its rich heritage with its biennial Alumni Weekend... A host of former players, many still playing professionally and some who were in the major leagues in 2011 like Joe Savery and Lance Pendleton, came home to Reckling Park to renew friendships and see old teammates. There may have been a little rain, but it was a fun day for all.
Check out the video of the Baseball Alumni Fan Fest here
Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion dynamo out there, Rice is 11-3 in its all-white uniforms, 4-3 in the pinstripes, 2-0 in blue tops with white pants, 9-2 in all-gray and 2-3 in blue tops with gray pants.
After the Owls complete the weekend series vs. East Carolina the players are off for 10 days while the University undergoes its final exams period for the spring semester. Rice baseball returns to action on May 2 (Wed.) for a non-conference clash against crosstown foe Texas Southern.
2012 C-USA Championship Tickets Now On Sale
IRVING, Texas - Tickets for the 2012 Conference USA Baseball Championship presented by Trustmark are on sale now. The eight-team tournament will be held Wed., May 23-Sun., May 27 at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss., the home of the Mississippi Braves, class AA affiliate of the Atlanta Braves in suburban Jackson, Miss. This will be the second-straight year that the C-USA Baseball Championship will be held at the neutral site... Tournament ticket packages include seats for all 13 games and are available in four different price ranges. Club seating is $120, dugout level seating is $100, field level seating is $80 and general admission seats are just $60. Tickets can be ordered through C-USA school ticket offices or by calling 1-888-BRAVES4. For complete details on the championship, please visit ConferenceUSA.com.... Trustmark Park, which opened April 18, 2005, has capacity for nearly 7,500 fans. There are 5,500 chair-back seats in the reserved seating areas. The grass berm beyond the outfield walls has room for an additional 2,000 general admission customers... The Farm Bureau Grill, beyond the right-field wall, is a full-service restaurant and there are nine baseball-themed concession stands that offer a wide variety of ballpark treats. Twenty-two luxury suites that seat between 16 and 20 fans are equipped with hardwood floors, a bar, flat screen TVs, refrigerator and sliding doors that open up to two rows of outdoor seats. The ballpark also includes a picnic pavilion in left field, 150 closed-circuit monitors positioned around the park televising the game and two merchandise shops... The 2012 Conference USA Championship will feature the top eight teams in regular-season league play. Those eight will be split into two four-team pools (or pods), with the winner of each pod playing in a single championship game. Teams will be assigned pods based on seed, which will be determined by the order of finish in regular-season conference play... Each team will be guaranteed to play three games. Teams in each pod will play two teams in its pod and one team outside its pod. The team with the best composite record in each pod will advance to the championship game. Two-way ties in a pod will be broken by head-to-head play. In case of a three-way tie, the highest seed will advance... Game times are 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday with the championship game slated for 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. The championship game will be nationally-televised by CBS Sports Network.
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