Feb. 19, 2006
MOBILE, Ala. - South Alabama's David Freese went 2-for-4 at the plate with a walk and four RBIs and pitched six strong innings, earning the victory, giving up three runs, one earned, on six hits, walking two and striking out three to lead the Jaguars to a 6-3 win over Southern Miss, today, at Stanky Field, in the final game of the Coca-Cola Classic.
Southern Miss (3-1) was declared the winner of the Coca-Cola Classic after finishing 2-1 for the event and tying with Wichita State. The Golden Eagles won the tiebreaker since they defeated the Shockers on Friday.
"I thought we matched their early intensity when we scored the three runs in the second inning," Southern Miss Head Coach Corky Palmer said. "They had Patrick Ezell on the ropes, and he fought really hard. I was real proud the way that he fought back. If you think about it, if we turn the double plays we were suppose to turn, the games completely different. You play it different, it was a big deal.
"The weather wasn't conducive to hitting the long ball, so whoever ties the big hits together was going to win the game. South Alabama did just that and that is why they won the game."
South Alabama (5-4) scored six runs on nine hits and committed three errors, while Southern Miss scored three runs on nine hits. Toddric Johnson led the Golden Eagles with three hits, while Freese and Billy Kleinschrodt each had two hits to lead South Alabama.
Chase Christianson (1) came on in relief of Freese in the seventh inning and pitched the final three innings, earning his first save of the season, giving up three hits.
Patrick Ezell (0-1) dropped his first decision of the season, giving up four runs on eight hits in 5.1 innings, striking out one and walking three. Jonathan Johnston relieved Ezell in the sixth inning, pitching one-third of an inning and giving up a walk. Ben Wade pitched an inning and didn't give up a hit, while Matt Caire pitched one-third of an inning and gave up two runs on two walks. Daniel Best finished the game and gave up a hit and struck out a batter.
The Jaguars struck early with a run in the first inning. Tyler Jones was walked to lead off the game, moved to third on Patrick Weaver's single through the left side and scored when Southern Miss wasn't able to complete the double play.
The Golden Eagles struck for three in the second inning to take the 3-1 lead. Kevin Coker reached first to lead off the inning when he was hit by a pitch, moved to third when Trey Cuevas reached on an error by South Alabama second baseman David Doss and then scored on Michael Ewing's fly out to right field. Bo Davis singled to left field, moved to second on a failed pickoff attempt by Freese and then scored on David Steele's single to center. Toddric Johnson reached on a second error by Doss, allowing Steele to score from second base.
South Alabama scored two runs in the bottom of the second inning to tie the game at 3-3. Doss reached on a two-out fielder's choice when Southern Miss couldn't complete the second double play of the game. He moved to second on Jones single up the middle, advanced to third when Weaver walked and then he and Jones scored on Freese's single to right center.
The Jaguars scored a run in the third inning to take the one-run lead, 4-3. Ben Daw hit a one-out double down the left field line and then scored on Kleinschrodt's single to left field.
Neither team scored again until South Alabama tacked on two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Jeff Morris drew a one-out walk, moved to second on Jones' walk and both scored on Freese's single up the middle.
After the second inning, the Golden Eagles were held in check, having only one runner advance to third during the rest of the game.
"We're 3-1 after this week, and we played pretty well this weekend," Palmer said. "I thought we played hard and gave it a lot of effort. We got a lot of relief pitchers in the game and got them some work. When it comes down to it, we are looking for someone to get us to Daniel Best so we can finish the game."
Southern Miss returns to action on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 3 p.m., when they host Mississippi Valley State.