Saturday June 6, 2009No. 17 Southern Miss Holds Off No. 9 Baseball, 9-7
No. 17 Southern Miss (39-24) erupted for three runs in the fifth and four in the sixth en route to a 9-7 victory over No. 9 Florida (42-21) in the first game of the best-of-three NCAA Gainesville Super Regional on Saturday at McKethan Stadium. The Golden Eagles will have an opportunity to clinch their first-ever berth in next weekend’s NCAA College World Series with a win tomorrow night at 7 p.m., live on ESPN2.
Senior reliever Jonathan Johnston (1-0) hurled 3.2 scoreless innings for USM, giving up one hit, before turning the game over sophomore Collin Cargill in the ninth with a three-run lead. Florida senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) (2-for-5) led off with a single into center field but was erased at second base on a close call on a fielder’s choice by junior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach , Fla.) (2-for-4, three runs). Freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-5, RBI) singled for two runners aboard and fly-out by sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) (2-for-5) left runners on the corners. Junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) narrowed the gap to 9-7 with a base-knock up the middle before Cargill closed the game by having senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) ground out to nail down his 12th save.
“You have to tip your cap to Southern Miss,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I thought their bullpen came in and did a really nice job and that was the difference. I felt pretty good after we scored two in the bottom of the fifth but then we turn around and give up four with one out and nobody on to their nine-hole hitter. You have to give credit to Southern Miss. They came up with some big hits and made a bunch of plays defensively. We have to come back ready to play tomorrow. This thing’s not over with yet.”
USM freshman B.A. Vollmuth opened the scoring in the second inning with his seventh homer, a two-out shot into the bleachers off senior Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.). It was his fourth round-tripper of the postseason.
The Eagles increased their lead to 2-0 in the third on a sacrifice fly by senior Corey Stevens, who had three RBI on the afternoon. Junior Taylor Walker (2-for-4, two runs) poked a leadoff single up the middle and was sacrificed to second base on a bunt by senior Bo Davis (2-for-3, two runs). Senior James Ewing (3-for-3, two runs, two RBI) and freshman Cameron Brunty drew consecutive walks to load the bases with one down and Stevens lofted a sac fly into right that brought across Walker. Locke rebounded to have junior Joey Archer ground out to third base to end the frame.
Following a 59-minute weather delay prior to the home part of the third inning, the Gators exploded for four runs on four hits off junior J.R. Ballinger to seize a 4-2 lead. Freshman Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) reached on a fielding error by Vollmuth at shortstop to start the stanza and senior Teddy Foster (Jacksonville, Fla.) bashed his seventh homer of the campaign off the scoreboard overlooking right field to even the score at 2-2. Barnes singled with one down and Jonathan Pigott rifled a double down the left-field line for a pair of runners in scoring position. Tucker moved the Gators in front with his 84th RBI of the year on a grounder to first base and Adams smashed a double into the gap in right center to plate Pigott for a 4-2 Gator advantage. Adams’ 11th two-bagger boosted his hitting streak to a dozen games.
Despite having the bases full with none out in the fourth, the Gators came away empty-handed. McArthur led off with his team-leading 14th double and moved to third on Daniel Pigott’s bunt single. With runners on the corners, Foster was plunked to load the bases, prompting a pitching change. Junior Cody Schlagel took over for Ballinger (3.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 ER) and caught Mooney looking on strikes. Barnes then grounded into an inning-ending double play to keep the count at 4-2, as Archer stepped on first base and threw to Graves at the plate to nab McArthur.
Southern Miss tallied three runs in the fifth to re-claim a 5-4 advantage. Davis started the inning with his sixth double and scored on Ewing’s 10th double to close the gap to 4-3. Brunty stroked a single into right for runners on the corners, ending the afternoon for Locke (4.0, 6 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 3 K). Senior Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) (4-4) induced a grounder by Stevens that junior shortstop Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.) misplayed, tying the game at 4-4 as Ewing scored. Soon after, Keating uncorked a wild pitch that brought in Brunty with the go-ahead run. The righty fanned both senior pinch hitter Michael Ewing and Vollmuth to hold UF’s deficit at one.
The Gators countered with a pair of runs in the home part of the stanza to take 6-5 lead. Jonathan Pigott drew a leadoff walk, Tucker poked a base-hit into left and Adams singled off Schlagel’s glove to fill the bags with none out. den Dekker popped up to short on the initial pitch for the first out, causing a pitching change. Johnston took over on the mound for Schlagel (1.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R) and hit McArthur to knot the game at 5-5. Freshman Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) delivered a pinch-hit sacrifice fly into foul territory to move Florida back ahead, with both runners advancing into scoring position. Johnston had Foster ground out to keep the visitors down by one score.
The Golden Eagles grabbed a 9-6 lead in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Brunty and two-out hits by Stevens (double) and Archer (single). Walker laced a single into center with one down and Davis was hit by a pitch to put USM in business. James Ewing tied the game with an RBI single into right field and kept runners on the corners. Brunty’s sacrifice fly into center field plated Davis and Stevens cranked his 15th double to give his squad a two-run edge. Archer came through with a single into shallow right to drive in Stevens for the three-run cushion.
Although a trio of Florida relievers, freshman Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) (1.1 IP, 1 H), junior Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) (0.2 IP) and freshman Justin Poovey (Granite Falls, N.C.) (1.0 IP, 1 H) held the Golden Eagles scoreless over three frames, the Gators weren’t able to complete the comeback. Each team had 12 hits, including three doubles and a homer apiece.
Southern Miss Post-Game Quotes
Head Coach Corky Palmer
“We really didn’t give up. We had that rain delay and things started bottoming out on us but we came back. It’s been like the last couple weeks for us, we’ve had that never say die attitude. Jonathan Johnston shut it down when we got in some trouble. Florida is a great hitting team and he gave us a chance to get our momentum back with the bat. He was a big part of this game.”
On Jonathan Johnston’s performance:
“He kept it down in the zone today and moved his fastball in and out and I think Florida rolled over some balls. I think we played good defense behind him but he didn’t give up many fly balls, he kept the ball in the infield and that’s what an underneath pitcher needs to do and that’s what he did.”
2B James Ewing
“When we had that rain delay I thought we had all the momentum in our dugout and that was the biggest thing that we wanted to keep on our side. Even though J.R. [Ballinger] struggled a little bit when he got back out we sort of stole the momentum away. That’s how these games are. You’ve got to battle back. I don’t know how many lead changes there were but that’s something we’ve taken pride in this postseason. We’ve battled back and we feel that we can always comeback.”
CF Bo Davis
“We never give up, no matter how far we’re down. We had a real big play when Joey Archer turned the double play with the bases loaded. I really think that turned the momentum in our favor and we got back in the dugout and were able to score some runs. We started going back and forth until Jonathan came in the game and really gave us a great effort.”
RHP Jonathan Johnston
“You couldn’t ask for more from the defense. They were playing hard and we got the momentum back and ran with it.”
· The Gators made their third NCAA Super Regional in the last six years, and their first since hosting in 2005.
· The loss was the Florida’s first NCAA Super Regional loss at home in school history and its first since losing 3-1 to Miami in Coral Cables on June 13, 2004.
· Florida fell to 25-8 (.758) on its own turf during NCAA play and snapped its eight-game winning streak at home in postseason play.
· The Orange and Blue’s 480 runs this season move the squad into eighth place all-time in school history, passing the 2001 (475) and 1979 (479) teams today.
· UF passed the 1988 College World Series squad with 29 sacrifice flies for sole possession of ninth-most in a single season in school history.
· This season in the NCAA Tournament, Preston Tucker is hitting .611 (11-for-18) with seven RBI, five runs and two home runs. The freshman leads all players left in the NCAA Tournament in RBI and leads all freshmen and sophomores in the country with 84 RBI, and is three away from taking the SEC lead. During his seven-game postseason tear this season, Tucker is 15-for-30 (.500) with 13 RBI, eight runs, three home runs and two doubles.
· Josh Adams extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games. During the stretch, Adams is 19-for-47 (.404) with 13 RBI, 11 runs, two home runs and two doubles. In his last eight games at McKethan Stadium, Josh Adams is 19-for-38 (.500) with 17 RBI, 11 runs, two home runs and two doubles.
· Avery Barnes has batted .357 (10-for-28) in his 2009 postseason campaign, with 12 runs, four RBI, four stolen bases and a double. In his last seven games at McKethan Stadium, Barnes is 12-for-29 (.414) with 13 runs, three RBI and three stolen bases. Barnes 75 runs this season lead the SEC and place him in a tie with Matt LaPorta and Adam Davis (2005) for eighth-most all-time in school history.
· Teddy Foster is batting .455 (5-for-11) this NCAA postseason with five RBI, one home run, one run and a double.
· Brandon McArthur has an RBI in eight of his nine-career NCAA Tournament games at McKethan Stadium. With today’s start, McArthur moved into sole possession for fifth-place all-time in games started at the University of Florida with 208. McArthur also passed Matt LaPorta (2004-07) for sole possession of ninth place all-time in games played at the University of Florida with 216.
· In his last 12 games, the Jonathan Pigott is 17-for-46 (.370) with 14 RBI, 13 runs, four home runs, three stolen bases and three doubles. In his last six games at McKethan Stadium, Pigott is batting .462 (12-for-26) with 10 runs, five RBI, three doubles and two stolen bases.
Southern Miss Notes
· Southern Miss made its first appearance in the NCAA Super Regional round in program history. The Golden Eagles are the only number three seed to advance this year and are just the 17th since the current format began in 1999.
· Today marked the second time in school history the two schools have faced each other, with the last contest being a 3-1 Southern Miss triumph on April 18, 1990, as part of the Diamond Club Classic in Mobile, Alabama.
· Today’s victory was the first victory by the Golden Eagles versus the SEC in NCAA Tournament play, a span of seven games (0-2 versus Alabama in 1999 NCAA Southeast Regional, 0-1 versus LSU in 2004 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional, 0-1 versus Ole Miss in 2007 NCAA Oxford Regional and 0-2 versus LSU all-time in the 2008 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional, 1-0 versus Florida in 2009 NCAA Gainesville Super Regional).
· The Golden Eagles improved to 162-8 over the last five seasons and 30-1 in 2009 when leading after six innings.
· The Golden Eagles improved to 28-5 when scoring first.
· USM turned its nation-leading 78th double play in the bottom of the fourth inning.
· Collin Cargill recorded his 12th save of the season, moving him into sole possession for fourth-place all-time in school history for saves in a single season. The closer tied Daniel Best (2003-05) for seventh all-time in school history with 12-career saves.
· Southern Miss recorded 10 or more hits for the 31st time this season and its fourth time in five 2009 NCAA Tournament games.
· During his 2009 NCAA Tournament campaign, B.A. Vollmuth has 11 RBI, four home runs, four runs and a double.
· In his five NCAA Tournament games this year, Bo Davis is 9-for-20 (.450) with seven runs, five RBI, three home runs and a double.
· During the span of his last 17 games, Corey Stevens has a .359 average (23-for-64), with 20 RBI, 16 runs, seven doubles and three home runs.
· Kameron Brunty now has eight runs over his last six games.
· James Ewing has now scored a run in five-straight games for the Golden Eagles.
· Southern Miss has gone yard in six-straight games and nine of its last 10 contests.
· Jonathan Johnston made his 80th-career appearance today, good for fourth-place all-time in school history.
· In his last five games, Michael Ewing is batting .429 (6-for-14) with five runs, three RBI and a double.