Leadoff homer helps pace South Alabama in 6-3 win over Mississippi State
- Dylan Hardy homered on the first pitch of the game and right-hander Randy Bell went the distance as the University of South Alabama defeated Mississippi State University 6-3 Friday night in the opening round of the Hattiesburg Regional.
“The story (Friday night) was Randy Bell, who threw 132 pitches and went all nine innings,” South Alabama coach Mark Calvi said. “But that’s function of his teammates. We had some guys make some great plays for him. We had some guys score some runs for him.
“So, there is no one guy. We have some good players and they play really well together and (Friday) was an indication of that.”
Hardy finished with three hits, as did teammate Travis Swaggerty, who drove in four runs with a run-scoring double in the first inning and three-run home run in the fifth inning.
“I got a change-up, middle-away,” said Swaggerty, who has 12 doubles and 11 home runs for South Alabama this season. “I sat on it and I drove it, I guess.”
Bell (7-3) scattered six hits over nine innings, allowing three runs. He walked two, struck out three.
“Any time a starting pitcher throws a complete game against you, you’re probably not going to win a ballgame,” State coach Andy Cannizaro said. “We just did not do enough to beat an outstanding team.”
The third-seeded Jaguars (40-19) will play top-seeded University of Southern Mississippi (49-14) at 6 p.m. Saturday in a winner’s bracket game.
“Both teams, we match up really (well),” Swaggerty said. “It’s going to be two similar teams, so I think it’s going to be real fun game (Saturday).”
The second-seeded Bulldogs (36-25) will take on fourth-seeded University of Illinois-Chicago (39-16) in a 1 p.m. elimination game Saturday.
Illinois-Chicago is expected to start right-hander Reid Berlingmair (7-4, 2.75 ERA). Cannizaro said left-hander Konnor Pilkington (7-5, 3.13 ERA) would get the starting nod for State against the Flames.
“He is our best starting pitcher and I expect him to put us on his back and carry us,” Cannizaro said.
Cody Brown had two of the Bulldogs’ six hits Friday night, including a run-scoring triple in the Bulldogs’ two-run sixth inning.
Cole Gordon (2-3) took the pitching loss, allowing three runs on three hits in two innings. He walked five and struck out two.
All told, five State pitchers allowed nine hits and nine walks.