March 21, 2006
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Holding onto a one-run lead, and with runners on first and second, Brian Dozier hit a triple to plate both runners and secure the 7-4 win for the Golden Eagles.
Southern Miss (17-5) scored seven runs on 12 hits and committed three errors, while South Alabama (15-9) scored four runs on 14 hits and committed two errors.
"This was a hard fought college baseball game between two great teams," Head Coach Corky Palmer said. "This is a rivalry that has been building since our program has risen. We met their intensity tonight, and got it done at the end. It was a great win for us. I also felt that Kevin Coker played a major role in the win tonight with his leadership. He wanted this win bad, being a fifth year senior, and we managed to get it for him."
Ryan Belanger (4-0) earned the win, pitching 3.1 innings, allowing four hits and striking out five. Daniel Best (6) earned the save, pitching one inning and allowed two hits. Golden Eagle starter Patrick Ezell pitched 4.2 innings, giving up four runs on eight hits and walked one. Eric Gonzalez (3-2) took the loss for the visiting Jaguars, pitching 1.2 innings and gave up four runs on six hits.
The Golden Eagle offense was led by Dozier, who collected three hits, two triples and three RBIs. Dozier's two triples tied a school record with 11 other players for most triples in a game. The last time it occurred was on March 4, 2004 when Matt Shepherd hit two triples against Indiana State in the McNeese State Tournament. Kevin Coker and David Steele each had two hits, and Coker also added a double and an RBI.
"I felt that Patrick Ezell pitched well, and I believe that he could have easily gone seven innings if we played better defense behind him," Palmer said. "You can't give a good team like South Alabama four outs an inning, but Belanger came in and shut them down."
The Jaguar offense was led by David Freese, who had three hits, one home run and two RBIs, while Ben Daw also added three hits.
With two runners on and two outs, Southern Miss responded by scoring four runs in the second inning to take a 4-0 lead. Michael Ewing led off the inning with a single up the middle, followed by Marc Maddox's single to left field. David Steele hit into a double play that forced both Maddox and Steele, but advanced Ewing to third. Coker then hit an RBI double down the left field line to score Ewing. Dozier followed with an RBI single to left field that scored Coker. Dozier stole second base and scored on Trey Sutton's RBI double to right center field. With Sutton at second, Luke Adkins hit an RBI single to left field to plate another run.
Southern Miss scored a run in the fourth inning to extend its lead to 5-0. Dozier led off with a triple to right field and scored on Toddric Johnson's sacrifice fly to center field.
South Alabama scored its first runs of the game in the fifth inning, scoring four to cut the Golden Eagle lead to 5-4. Tyler Jones reached base on a fielder's choice, stole second base, advanced to third on Patrick Weaver's single and scored on a throwing error by Sutton. With Weaver at first, Freese homered to right center field to score two runs. Jeff Cunningham then singled for the Jaguars, stole second base and scored on Guillermo Martinez's RBI single to left field.
Southern Miss scored two runs in the eighth inning to extend its lead to 7-4. Steele singled up the middle and then Bo Davis, who pinch ran for Steele, advanced to second on Coker's single to right field to position runners at first and second for Dozier to hit his second single of the game, scoring both runs.
Southern Miss next travels to Monroe, La. on Wednesday, March 22, to face Louisiana-Monroe for a 6:30 p.m. start.
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