Baseball Explodes in NCAA Opener with 14-2 Victory over South Alabama
Southern Miss wanted to make an impression in its first NCAA Baseball Regional game in five seasons.
They certainly did that.
Kirk McCarty limited South Alabama to three hits over six innings and the Golden Eagles exploded for an 11-run sixth to defeat the Jaguars 14-2 in the opening round of the Tallahassee Regional Friday afternoon at Dick Howser Stadium.
McCarty, who got the call for Southern Miss in its first regional game since 2011 and the school's 13th appearance overall, retired the first 14 batters he faced and limited the Jaguars (40-21) to four base runners as he fanned four and did not walk anyone. The victory for McCarty improved his record to 8-1 on the season and the team has now won 16 of 17 games that he has pitched.
"I just wanted to throw strikes, let the defense work and they did that," said McCarty. "Tim (Lynch) made a great play and then the play Coach Berry mentioned (throwing a runner out at the plate to end the fifth); we played well all-around. Just keep it in the zone, be efficient and get quick outs and we were able to that today."
Southern Miss (41-18) scored solo runs in the first, third and fourth innings as Chase Scott knocked in the game's first tally with a double off the right-center wall, before Hunter Slater increased the lead with a run-scoring single in the third. Dylan Burdeaux made the score 3-0 by plating a run with a groundout before the Golden Eagles exploded.
Junior Chuckie Robinson started the sixth with a massive home run to center, his seventh of the year, and that opened the floodgates for the No. 2 seed.
Southern Miss sent 15 men to the plate as it took South Alabama four pitchers to finish the frame. USA starter, Kevin Hill, a first-team All-America selection by Collegiate Baseball, got chased first as he allowed six runs on nine hits over 5 1/3 innings with two walks and a strikeout to suffer the loss and fall to 8-2.
"Offensively, we had to put together some really good at-bats against their starter who had some tremendous numbers, 117 innings pitched with 125 strikeouts so he certainly has an out pitch. Our guys did a great job of extending those at-bats. Early on we had a lot of hard hit balls with nothing to show for it; not a lot of strikeouts."
With the score 4-0, Lynch got hit by a pitch and Scott walked, each with the bases loaded, to extend the lead. Keating then knocked in a run with a single and Slater doubled home two runs to make the score 9-0.
Tracy Hadley then continued the hit parade with a run-scoring single before Dawson tripled home two more with a smash high off the rightfield wall. Burdeaux added a run-scoring single and later completed the inning by coming home on a wild pitch.
In all, there were eight hits and an error, along with three walks and hit batter to give Southern Miss its largest scoring inning of the year and first scoring double-digits since scoring 10 against FIU on March 15, 2015.
That run-scoring outburst allowed McCarty to take the rest of the day off and three Golden Eagle relief pitchers, Clay Tageant, Luke Lowery and Bryan Coughlin, limited the Jags to a pair of ninth-inning runs down the stretch.
The Golden Eagles return to action for a 5 p.m., CT winner's bracket game, Saturday, when they take on either No. 1 seed Florida State or No. 4 seed Alabama State, who play later in the day.