HOUSTON, Texas - Bradley Roney's RBI single in the bottom of the seventh broke a seven-all tie and helped second-seed Southern Miss to a 10-7 win over seventh-seed Tulane in game two of the Conference USA Championship Wednesday afternoon at Reckling Park.
With the win Southern Miss improved to 29-25 on the season and 1-0 in pool play, while Tulane drops to .500 on the year at 28-28 and 0-1.
Down 6-2 heading to the bottom of the fifth, the Golden Eagles scored eight unanswered runs to pick up their fourth-straight win over the Green Wave in championship play, dating back to 2009.
Pinch hitter Michael Sterling was hit by a Andrew Garner pitch to start the bottom of the seventh inning. Roney, who looked to push Sterling over on a sac bunt, took a first pitch ball and USM Head Coach Scott Berry immediately wiped off the bunt allowing Roney to swing away. The third baseman laced an RBI double to left center giving the Golden Eagles an 8-7 advantage. Blake Brown added a pair of insurance runs, belting his 10th home run of the season (fourth in the last five games) for a 10-7 lead.
Jay Myrick (4-0) picked up the win out of the bullpen, allowing one run on one hit in 2.1 innings. Starter Andrew Pierce was touched for six runs (four earned) on 10 hits in 4.2 innings. Nick Johnson collected his first save of the year with two scoreless frames.
David Napoli (4-3) took the loss in his second relief appearance of the season. The right-hander surrendered three runs on a pair of hits and three walks in two-thirds of work. Tony Rizzotti lasted 3.1 innings, allowing a pair of runs (one earned) on five hits with a strikeout in the start. Kyle McKenzie (four runs) and Garner (one run) each tossed an inning, while Tucker Oakley was the bright spot out of the bullpen with two perfect frames.
Tulane took advantage of a fielding miscue by USM shortstop Travis Creel in the first pushing across a pair of runs for a 2-0 lead. Brennan Middleton reached on the one-out error and moved into scoring position when Brandon Boudreaux singled to center. Garner followed with a ground out to third advancing the runners before Garrett Cannizaro cleared the bases with an RBI single to center.
Richard Carthon extended the Green Wave's lead to three, 3-0, in the second on an RBI fielder's choice that plated Tim Yandel from third. Yandel, who tied his career-high with three hits, singled up the middle with one out and raced over to third on Cameron Burns' single through the right side on a hit and run.
A pair of Southern Miss hits and a Tulane throwing error put the Golden Eagles on the board in the third, cutting the lead to 3-1. Chase Fowler and Dillon Day reached on consecutive singles and Austin Roussel loaded the bases with a one-out walk. Fowler crossed home when Isaac Rodriguez reached on the error by Cannizaro.
Cameron Burns RBI bunt single and Middleton's ground out RBI pushed Tulane's lead to four, 5-1 in the fourth. Bowen Woodson and Yandel recorded consecutive singles putting runners on the corners for Burns. Two batters later, Middleton grounded out to third scoring Yandel.
Southern Miss scored five runs in the fifth using four hits and three walks for its first lead of the day, 7-6. First-team All-C-USA selection Isaac Rodriguez plated the first run of the stanza with the bases loaded sending a fly ball to deep right field scoring Creel. Mason Robbins followed with an RBI single before Tulane went to the bullpen for the second time in the contest. Tim Lynch welcomed Garner with an RBI double to right center, pulling USM within one at 6-5.
The scoring continued on Roney's sac fly to center that plated Robbins and tied the game at six-all. Chase Fowler's run scoring single up the middle plated Lynch and gave the Golden Eagles the lead.
Tulane wasn't going down without a fight as they tied the game at seven in the top half of the sixth. Carthon led off with a base hit to left and took second on Middleton's sac bunt back to the mound. Garner stepped to the plate and sent a rocket back up the middle scoring the tying run.
Seven of Southern Miss' starters collected hits on the day with five posting two-hit performances. Rodriguez extended his hitting streak to a personal-best 20 games in the sixth.
Yandel recorded a game-high three hits pacing Tulane's 13-hit attack. Burns, Carthon and Scott Potkay each added a pair of base knocks.
Southern Miss will return to the diamond Friday, May 25 when they play Houston at 3 p.m. (CT), while Tulane will be back in action in the early game Friday, taking on East Carolina at 11 a.m. (CT).