Sunday June 7, 2009No. 17 USM Rallies To Defeat No. 9 Baseball, 7-6
No. 17 Southern Miss (40-24) overcame a 6-4 deficit with three runs in the eighth inning to defeat No. 9 Florida (42-22), 7-6, in game two of the NCAA Gainesville Super Regional on Sunday night at McKethan Stadium. With their second-straight win over the Gators, the Golden Eagles punched a ticket to their first-ever NCAA College World Series.
“First, I want to congratulate Southern Miss,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “They played really, really well. All year long we have played teams who have made mistakes and kicked the ball around a little bit, but they play great defense. Their bullpen again did a heck of a job. We had a solid game plan going against their starter, but once again their bullpen put up six-straight zeroes on the scoreboard. We just couldn’t quite distance ourselves enough from them. If you had told me going into the day that we had a two-run lead with six outs to play and a rested Billy Bullock on the mound, I would have felt pretty good about it. But, you have to tip your caps to them.”
Having trailed 6-1 in the third stanza, USM chipped away at the deficit with two runs in the fourth and one more in fifth. The Golden Eagles were down to their last six outs and trailed by a 6-4 count heading into the eighth. Florida junior closer Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.) (3-3) replaced junior Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.), who threw a career-high 3.2 innings out of the bullpen, and plunked leadoff hitter senior Bo Davis. The right-hander walked senior James Ewing (2-for-3, three runs) for two runners on base and then struck out freshman Kameron Brunty. After sophomore Adam Doleac delivered a single into right field to load the bases with one down, junior Joey Archer (2-for-4, three RBI) roped a two-run single into left to tie the game at 6-6. Although a grounder by sophomore Tyler Koelling forced Archer at second, Doleac was able to come across with what proved to be the winning run when Koelling was safe on the relay throw to first base.
Freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-2, three walks) provided the Gators with a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first with his team-leading 15th homer of the campaign off USM sophomore Todd McInnis. With two down, the slugger launched a 2-1 pitch that cleared the right field fence and caromed off a light tower to increase his school-record RBI total to 85.
Davis tied the game with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the frame off freshman Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) that landed in the left-field bleachers. It was the third time this season he has opened a game with a round-tripper.
Florida claimed a 2-1 lead in the second on a solo shot by senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) (2-for-4, three RBI) into the left-field bleachers. It was his third of the year and second of the postseason, as McArthur belted a dinger against Bethune-Cookman on May 31.
The Gators tallied four runs on three hits in the third to build a 6-1 advantage. Junior Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.) drew a leadoff walk and senior Avery Barnes (High Springs , Fla.) (3-for-5) stroked his ninth double for a pair of runners in scoring position. McInnis struck out junior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach , Fla.) and then elected to walk Tucker intentionally to fill the bags. The move back-fired when sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) stroked an RBI single into right field to score Mooney and raise his hitting streak to 13 games. Junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) lofted a sacrifice fly into right field to bring across Barnes and give the Gators a three-run lead. Adams moved into scoring position with his fifth theft and McArthur cleared the bases with a two-run single to increase the margin to 6-1.
In the fourth, Barnes connected on his second hit of the night with two down and stole second before Pigott earned a free pass. Tucker drew his second walk on four-consecutive pitches to load the bases and McInnis worked out of the jam with a key strikeout of Adams.
Southern Miss plated two runs in the fourth and had the bases full before the Gators turned a critical inning-ending double play. Maronde had retired nine-straight Golden Eagles before Ewing started the inning with a flare into right field. Brunty followed with a walk for two runners aboard and senior Corey Stevens roped an RBI single into left to narrow the gap to 6-2 and prompt a pitching change. Freshman Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) replaced Maronde (3.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R) and surrendered an RBI double into left center to Archer that reduced USM’s deficit to 6-3. With a pair of runners in scoring position, Larson caught Koelling looking on strikes and then walked freshman B.A. Vollmuth to load the bases with one down. Davis was summoned from the bullpen and had junior pinch hitter Kyle Maxie fly out to right field. Pigott caught the ball and fired a bullet to junior catcher Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.), who withstood a lunge by Stevens to complete the double play. Stevens was ejected from the contest by home plate umpire Paul Gullie after the collision.
Ewing pulled the Golden Eagles within 6-4 in the fifth with a two-out jack into the left-field bleachers off Davis. It was his fourth big fly of the year.
Junior Scott Copeland (2-5) took over for McInnis (5.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 K, 4 BB) prior to UF’s sixth turn at the plate. Barnes smashed an infield single with one down, moved to second on a wild pitch and occupied third on Pigott’s grounder. The Golden Eagles pitched around Tucker to face Adams and the maneuver paid off when Copeland had the Gator ground out to end the frame.
Copeland threw three scoreless innings to notch the victory, while Collin Cargill recorded the final three outs to pick up his 13th save and second of the weekend. The Gators held a 9-7 edge in hits and neither team committed an error.
Florida Post-Game Quotes
#3 Brandon McArthur
“Going into this weekend, we knew that they would be a scrappy team, just like ourselves. They battled. Every single person that went out there for them seemed like they were on a mission. You have to give them a lot of credit. They came into our place, which is a very tough place to play, and they just got the job done. You just have to congratulate them for their performance and wish them the best of luck in Omaha.”
On the end of his collegiate career at Florida:
“Never once will I think that I made the wrong decision by coming back. I wanted to come back because of Coach O’Sullivan. I have a great relationship with him and all of the coaching staff. This has been a great season and it’s a tough way to go out but I’ve had so much fun. My six years here as a Gator have been unbelievable. I will always be a Gator and support this team 100 percent.”
#20 Tony Davis
“Obviously, I want to tip my hat to Southern Miss. They did a great job and came out here and battled, but this is a tough one. Working all year for the team to get to this point and for it to end like this is tough.”
Southern Miss Post-Game Quotes
Head Coach Corky Palmer
“I’m just so proud of our team. Winning the Super Regional the way we did it and come back against a fine Florida team at home is amazing. To be down 6-1 and come back and win that game was special. It’s been a great ride. I don’t know what happened three weeks ago but those seniors bonded and we just grew up each week. We’ve earned everything that we have got. We had great relief pitching and Joey (Archer) got the big hit. This is quite an accomplishment for our school to go to Omaha. Seven-straight regionals are nothing to sneeze at but to take this step to Omaha will do wonders for our program.”
#28 James Ewing
“I wish whoever told me yesterday that Florida won a lot of games coming from behind never told me that because that game was absolutely nerve-wracking. It’s a phenomenal feeling to have the goals that you set as a team in the first week of fall comes to fruition. I can’t even put it into words how great this feels. We battled back and that just shows the character of this team.”
#38 Joey Archer
“This is a dream come true to go to Omaha. I’ve thought about this since I was a kid. This is what we’ve all worked so hard for in the fall and it’s what we’ve dreamed about. We’re not done yet, we are going to go there and push on through. I envisioned the big hit as I was on deck, but I can’t explain to you the feelings and emotion that were going through my body as I was running the bases. It felt really good.”
Southern Miss Notes
· Southern Miss advances to its first-ever College World Series.
· Collin Cargill recorded his 13th save of the season, moving him into a tie for second-place all-time in school history for saves in a single season. The closer tied Tony Phillips(1991) for sixth all-time in school history with 13-career saves.
· USM turned its nation-leading 79th double play in the top of the seventh inning.
· In his six NCAA Tournament games this year, Bo Davis is 10-for-23 (.435) with nine runs, six RBI, four home runs and a double. Davis’ solo shot in the first was his third leadoff home run of the season.
· James Ewing has now scored a run in six-straight games for the Golden Eagles.
· The Golden Eagles are 21-6 when scoring in the first inning.
· Over his last seven games, Joey Archer is 12-for-21 (.571) with 10 RBI, six runs, three doubles and a home run.
· During the span of his last 18 games, Corey Stevens has a .364 average (24-for-66), with 21 RBI, 16 runs, seven doubles and three home runs.
· Southern Miss has gone yard in seven-straight games and 10 of its last 11 contests.
· Kameron Brunty now has nine runs over his last seven games.
· USM improves to 10-2 in one-run games.