Back-to-back West Florida errors and a suicide squeeze bunt by West Alabama centerfielder Jocobby Robinson notched three runs for the Tigers in the top of the eighth inning to give UWA a 6-3 victory in game one of the Gulf South Conference Tournament at AT&T Field on Thursday.
“Obviously this was a huge win,” said UWA head coach Gary Rundles.
“We've had some short trips to the conference tournament in the past, but today I thought we played well. We did a good job getting some quality at bats early. I think that our guys have changed their mental approach on offense. When we made mistakes I saw a different attitude and belief from a team that has struggled all year, and today I was proud of them.”
West Alabama entered the tournament with a No. 6 conference ranking to get its first post season win since 2009. The Tigers now improve to 22-28 on the season. Nationally ranked No. 18 West Florida entered the tournament ranked third in the GSC to now fall to 34-11 overall.
West Alabama senior Matthew Magee put the Tigers up 3-0 in the top of the second inning with a bases loaded triple. West Florida right fielder Drew Prichard responded with a triple in the bottom of fifth that sent in two runs and sparked a rally that tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh.
Fellow UWA senior Brett Ivey (4-4) entered in the seventh and allowed only one run through two innings to take away the victory on the mound. Junior Taylor Bratton started the first six innings for the Tigers and recorded a career high of eight strikeouts. Kevin Peters (3-1) pitched through four innings, starting in the fourth and allowed two runs to record the loss.
Senior Jeremy White closed out the game for the Tigers in the final inning, allowing no hits to take home his sixth save of the year.
West Alabama will now move on to face the winner of game two, featuring West Georgia and Alabama-Huntsville, in the second round of the tournament on Friday. The game is set for 11 a.m. (C.S.T.).
West Florida will take on the loser of game two on Friday at 8:00 a.m. (C.S.T.).
“It's important to take some time to enjoy today while also getting prepared for tomorrow,” said Rundles. “Both teams that we could face tomorrow are very capable opponents and we will need a good outing, including a strong performance by Nick Bolleter.”