T.J. Rich Homers Twice As Tigers Clinch Series With No. 14 Southern Miss
April 9, 2011
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – T.J. Rich hit two home runs and the University of Memphis pounded out 18 hits and earned a series victory with a 16-8 win over No. 14 Southern Miss on Saturday at FedExPark.
Southern Miss (22-8, 5-3 C-USA) scored four runs in the first frame, but Memphis (19-11, 3-2 C-USA) answered the first inning scoring by the Golden Eagles with a three-run inning. A one-out walk to Chad Zurcher started the first inning rally and Jacob Wilson hammered a 2-0 pitch to left center field for a two-run home run and brought the U of M within two at 4-2. After back-to-back singles by Rich and double by Phillip Chapman, the Tigers would plate a third run on a RBI by Eli Hynes.
After Southern Miss increased its lead to 5-3 in the top of the second with a bases loaded walk, Memphis responded once again with a two-run second to tie the game at 5-5. A leadoff double by Robby Graham boosted the Tiger offense to its first run of the inning as Graham would score on a sacrifice fly to left field by Zurcher. Three walks in the inning loaded the bases for Phillip Chapman, but it was a balk by USM pitcher Geoffrey Thomas that allowed the game to knot at 5-5.
USM scored one run in the fourth to regain the lead at 6-5, but the Tigers countered again in their half of the inning. A leadoff single by Ethan Gross and a walk to Martinez brought the nation’s leading hitter to the plate with a chance to do some damage. Zurcher laid down a bunt and beat the throw to first to load the bases for Wilson. Zurcher improved his nation’s leading batting average to .520 with his first hit in the series.
Wilson, who homered in the second, collected his third RBI of the day with an RBI-single up the middle that tied the score at 6-6. An infield single by Rich gave the Tigers the lead at 7-6 and chased USM starter Thomas from the game. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Memphis would use a sacrifice fly by Chapman to increase the lead to 8-6. The Tigers added another run on an RBI-single by Hynes and carried a 9-6 lead into the fifth inning.
Memphis used three, two-out runs in the bottom of the fifth to increase the lead to 12-6. After back-to-back singles by Martinez and Zurcher, Rich belted a three-run home run to right field for his fourth homer of the season. Rich improved to 7-for-7 in the series with the homer. Memphis crossed another run in the sixth with a bases loaded walk of Zurcher.
Memphis starter Ryan Holland allowed six runs, five earned, and 10 hits in four innings of work. Tyler Farley earned his first win at the U of M in relief of Holland as he allowed two runs in four innings on three hits. Farley struck out a career-high four batters in his career-long outing.
Rich logged four hits on the day and is 8-for-9 in the series. All nine batters in the lineup collect a hit and five U of M hitters collected two or more hits. Rich had six RBI in the game and Wilson added four RBI.
The Tigers will go for the series sweep on Sunday with first pitch set for 1 p.m. at FedExPark.