Tigers Rally Past 14th-Ranked Southern Miss 6-5
April 8, 2011
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis baseball squad scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to claim a 6-5 series opening victory over No. 14 Southern Miss on Friday at FedExPark.
A leadoff walk by the nation's leading hitter Chad Zurcher started the ninth inning rally. Jacob Wilson followed with a bunt and reached after Southern Miss closer Collin Cargill threw to second, but Zurcher beat the throw. With runners on first and second and nobody out, T.J. Rich laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners to scoring position. Phillip Chapman was intentionally walked to load the bases and Eli Hynes hit a grounder to second. Golden Eagles second baseman Isaac Rodriguez attempted to turn a double play on Hynes grounder, but the throw was wide and Zurcher and Wilson scored to give the Tigers the victory.
Memphis (18-11, 2-2 C-USA) opened the scoring in the second inning with a RBI by Hynes. Rich collected the first of four hits on the night in the second with a single to right center and scored on the groundout to second by Hynes.
The Tigers flashed some leather in the top of the fifth inning when Southern Miss first baseman Adam Doleac smacked a long triple to right center to lead off the inning. But a pair of intelligent plays by Wilson allowed the Tigers to retain their 1-0 lead. Mark Ellis quickly dug-in and ripped a shot directly to the Bartlett, Tenn. native who made the quick decision to stun Doleac with a throw to home. Wilson then followed that performance by turning a 5-4-3 double play to get the Tigers out of a jam.
The Tigers added two runs in the fifth on the heels of a leadoff single by Robby Graham. After Graham stole second and advanced to third on a single by Drew Martinez, a wild pitch moved Martinez to second. Zurcher was then walked to load the bases for Jacob Wilson. A sacrifice fly by Wilson plated the Tigers second run and a line drive RBI-single to shallow left field gave the U of M a 3-0 lead over the nationally ranked Golden Eagles.
Southern Miss (22-7, 5-2 C-USA) tallied its first run in the top of the seventh inning on a solo home run by the second baseman Rodriguez. Memphis answered in the bottom of the inning with Rich's second RBI-single of the night.
The Golden Eagles tied the game in the top of the eighth after Tiger starter Dan Langfield hit a batter and walked two-straight to load the bases. U of M closer Ben Paullus was summoned to get the Tigers out of the jam, but Tyler Koelling hit an RBI-single to bring USM to within two at 4-2. Paullus walked the next batter he faced to allow a third run to score for Southern Miss and back-to-back wild pitches gave Southern Miss its first lead of the night at 5-4.
Langfield finished the night with seven innings pitched and he allowed four runs on three hits, walked five and struck out three. Paullus (2-0) picked up the win allowing one run on one hit in two innings of work. Paullus struck out two and walked two.
Rich led the Tiger offense with a 4-for-4 night at the plate and he had two RBI. Wilson and Hynes picked up one RBI each and Martinez collected two hits for Memphis. Zurcher finished the evening 0-for-1, but reached base four times and scored two runs and continues to lead the nation with a .515 batting average.
Memphis will put its five-game win streak, the longest win streak since March 2008, on the line on Saturday with game two of the three-game set slated for 2 p.m. Tiger Baseball will honor Phil Clark and retire his jersey with a pregame ceremony expected to begin at 1:40 p.m.