Baseball Clinches C-USA Tournament Berth with 10-8 Win in Suspended Game
May 22, 2010
HATTIESBURG, Miss. -
Memphis (27-27; 12-11 C-USA) 000 014 302 - 10 16 3 No. 29 Southern Miss (31-21; 13-10 C-USA) 300 000 203 - 8 14 1
The University of Memphis baseball team punched its ticket to the C-USA Championship in Houston next week with a 10-8 victory over No. 29 Southern Miss in game two of the series Saturday afternoon. The Tigers will now battle the Golden Eagles in the regular season finale. Game three's winner will earn the tournament's second seed, while the loser claims the third seed.
The win seals Memphis's first C-USA Championship appearance since its NCAA Tournament run in 2007.
In the second suspended game of the year for the Tigers, they trailed 3-0 before scoring the next five runs to take a 5-3 lead through six innings before lightening struck and the rains fell, forcing the game's suspension.
Tyler Huelsing led off the seventh with a double to the left centerfield gap before lightening struck in close proximity to Pete Taylor Park, prompting a lightening delay at 8:47 p.m. Heavy rains fell and the game was officially suspended at 9:50 p.m.
The Tigers picked up with they left off on Saturday. With Huelsing on second, Jacob Wilson reached on a bunt single and Rick Russell followed with an RBI-double to left. Derrick Thomas then drilled a liner off the glove of USM shortstop B.A. Vollmuth to bring Wilson and Russell home to make it a 7-3 ballgame.
Southern Miss used a pair of infield errors by the Memphis defense to respond with two unearned runs off Tiger reliever Heith Hatfield.
Ahead 8-5 in the final inning, the Memphis offense delivered with a pair of runs. First baseman Trey Wiedman ignited the inning with a leadoff single and Adam McClain sacrificed him to second to set up an RBI-single by Hatfield. Hatfield's hit proved to be the game-winner. Shawn Ablett then launched an RBI-double to deep right centerfield to put Memphis on top 10-5.
The two run ninth showed to be a critical one for the Tigers as Vollmuth blasted his 15th home run of the year in the bottom of the ninth. Vollmuth's blast came with two runners aboard to cut Memphis's lead to two runs. Hatfield was able to retire the side and end the game without any further damage for the 10-8 win.
Hatfield provided Memphis with a valiant relief outing. The sophomore from Bartlett, Tenn., allowed five runs in the final three innings. He battled through defensive miscues to give up three earned runs--all on Vollmuth's ninth-inning home run.
Memphis trailed 3-0 after four frames, before the Tigers offense broke through on the Golden Eagles' freshman starter Geoffrey Thomas in the fifth. Thomas was solid through four, fanning three in four shutout innings before Chad Zurcher's RBI-triple got the Tigers on the scoreboard and cut the deficit to 3-1.
The U of M then struck for four scores in the sixth to take a 5-3 lead. The four-run rally started with a walk to Russell and McClain successfully executed the hit-and-run with a single to move Russell to third. McClain's hit pushed his hit streak to 20-straight games. After McClain moved to second on a wild pitch, Hatfield laced a two-run double down the leftfield line and into the leftfield corner to knot the contest at 3-3.
The Memphis offense continued to add on to its production with consecutive singles from Thomas and Ablett. Ablett's single was the fourth-straight in the stanza and brought Hatfield in with the go-ahead run. Drew Martinez capped the inning's scoring with a sacrifice fly to rightfield to score Thomas and give the Tigers a 5-3 cushion.
Just like in Thursday night's series opener, Memphis helped Southern Miss get on the board with free bases. An infield error and a walk, combined with two singles and a triple helped the Golden Eagles get out to a 3-0 lead after one inning. A two-run triple by Dillon Day highlighted the opening frame. All three runs were unearned.
Brennon Martin was strong after the three-run first. He scattered six hits and struck out four over the next five scoreless innings to pick up the win and improve to 5-6. Just three Southern Miss bases runners advanced into scoring position. Thomas was tagged with the loss for the Golden Eagles. He allowed six hits and gave up four runs--all earned--in 5.1 innings. He struck out four.
Memphis's offense collected 10 hits before the suspension and won the slugfest 16-14. Six Tigers (Zurcher, Huelsing, Wilson, Hatfield, Thomas and Ablett) racked up two hits each. Hatfield added three RBI. Martinez recorded a hit to extended his hit streak to 22-straight games with a single in the eighth inning.