March 18, 2012
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Murray State scored four times in the top of the seventh to rally for a 6-4 victory here Sunday afternoon at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field.
Southern Miss had built a 4-1 advantage when MSU (10-10) took the lead for good in the seventh. After USM starter Jake Drehoff got a groundout, he then walked the next two batters to end his day. Drehoff did not get a decision in the contest as he allowed three runs on five hits and four walks with a season-high seven strikeouts.
The Golden Eagles (11-9) then went to Cameron Giannini who allowed a two-run double into the leftfield corner by Paul Ritzheimer as the visitors cut the gap to 4-3. After a groundout, Travis Isaak singled home Ritzheimer to tie the game and Cody Larson then knocked in the go-ahead run with a single to rightfield.
Giannini (1-2) lasted 2/3 of an inning and allowed two runs on four hits to suffer the loss. MSU added another run in the ninth on a RBI single from Mike Kozlowski.
"Relief pitching is just not doing what it needs to do to win baseball games, and I'm not putting it all on them by any means," said Southern Miss coach Scott Berry.
The Golden Eagles established their lead with three runs in the third on a wild pitch, a RBI groundout from Mason Robbins and an RBI single from Ashley Graeter, while adding an RBI single from Travis Creel in the fifth to account for their scoring. Still, Southern Miss left a season-high 12 runners stranded on base in the contest, leaving at least one runner stranded in seven of nine innings.
"That was crucial, but where we are right now personnel-wise that's what we have," said Berry on his team stranding base runners to go along with the absence of three starters, Kameron Brunty (hand), Dillon Day (quad) and Jared Bales (back), because of various injuries. "There's not much left we can do right now. We just have to keep grinding and hope we come out better from this experience today."
The Golden Eagles put runners on first and third in the eighth with two outs, but a come-backer to MSU's Will Handlin ended the threat. Handlin threw the final 5 1/3 innings to get the victory and improve to 3-0 on the year. He allowed a run on six hits and two walks with a pair of strikeouts.
"It's easy to get frustrated in those situations, but to me what's more frustrating is after we give up a big inning, we have been unable to come back and put up one of our own," said senior Ashley Graeter. "You have to get that momentum back and give yourself a chance and we haven't done that."
The Golden Eagles return to action Tuesday when they travel to Oxford to face Ole Miss for the first of two meetings this season. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m.
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