Southern Miss

The C-USA baseball tournament is struggling with rain delays. Is single-elimination an option?

Twenty-seven hours into the Conference USA baseball tournament, only two of the five planned games had been completed.

FAU and UTSA managed to win the first two games of the tournament, with FAU taking Game 1, 7-4, over FIU on Wednesday and UTSA beating Charlotte, 11-1, Thursday morning in a game that was originally set as Game 4 on Wednesday.

Thunderstorms caused several delays at MGM Park on Wednesday. The heavy rain never came, but there were lightning strikes within 1 mile of the stadium.

Thursday morning proved to be much more uneventful with wet weather staying clear of the ballpark. However, pop-up storms showed up early in the afternoon.

The possibility of rain increases for Biloxi the remainder of the weekend. There's at least an 80 percent chance of rain Friday through Sunday.

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There's an 80 percent chance that a tropical system develops in the Gulf of Mexico by the weekend. It's still uncertain what part of the Gulf Coast would take the brunt of the storm, but there's the potential of flooding on Saturday and Sunday on the Coast.

If rain interferes over the next couple of days, C-USA officials will have to make a decision on how best to complete the tournament. The title game, which will be broadcast by CBS Sports Network, is set for 1 p.m. Sunday.

Single elimination?

One possibility is league officials could decide to go to a single-elimination format, according to Conference USA rules.

"Every effort should be made to complete all scheduled games in the (tournament). The Conference representative and Tournament Director will control the start of games under rain conditions. If rain delays games to the point where the (tournament) cannot be completed by Sunday night, with no more than four games in a day and a team playing no more than two games a day, the (tournament) format will change to single elimination."

If the tournament isn't completed by Sunday, the highest remaining seed will be awarded the conference's automatic bid to the 64-team NCAA Tournament.

The rulebook says: “If the (tournament) is canceled prior to the final game, no champion will be declared and the recipient of the automatic bid shall be the highest remaining seed. If only the championship game is canceled, co-champions will be awarded and the automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Baseball (Tournament) will go to the highest remaining seed.”

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Southern Miss-UAB (Game 3) was moved back to 1:30 p.m. Thursday. The winner of that game will face UTSA at 12:30 p.m. Friday. The loser was schedule to play the loser of a Rice-Louisiana Tech game that was suspended Wednesday night with the Owls leading 6-1 after six innings. That elimination contest was set for 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

Thursday's completion of the Rice-La. Tech game, which was scheduled for 12:30 p.m., was delayed 30 minutes by yet another lightning delay.

FAU, which won Game 1, won't play again until 9 a.m. Friday against the winner of Louisiana Tech-Rice.

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