April 17, 2010
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Victor Gomez hit a two-out two-run double in the bottom of the seventh to break a 3-3 tie and five relievers combined to throw four shutout innings of relief to even the series against Southern Miss with a 6-3 victory on Saturday afternoon at Appalachian Power Park in Conference USA action.
The Herd pitching staff used a total of six arms that totaled 15 strikeouts and allowed just five hits to improve the team record to 14-20 overall and 5-6 in C-USA play. MU starter Mike Mason recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts in five innings of work allowing just three earned runs on four hits, yet did not figure in the decision.
Mason, who had struggled in his two previous C-USA outings against Memphis and UAB was extremely effective on the bump. The southpaw was locked in the first inning as he struck out all three batters he faced looking to send momentum to the Herd dugout.
The energy ignited the MU batters as they touched up USM (18-15, 2-6 C-USA) starter Todd McInnis (2-4) for three runs on four hits in bottom of the first. Leadoff man Kirby Pellant began the rally by dunking a two-strike single to right. After a Kurt Lipton base hit was sandwiched around by a pair of outs, James Lavinskas lined a RBI single through the left side for the first run of the day. DH Alfredo Brito sauced a sharp single to left-center plating two more runs for the early 3-0 edge.
Mason cruised through the first four frames retiring eight of the 12 outs by way of the strikeout. The Golden Eagles finally made sense of the Mason’s stuff in the fifth by scoring three times to even the score. Taylor Walker lined a two-run single to highlight the offense after Travis Graves drew a bases loaded free pass earlier in the frame. With two runners in scoring position, Mason tallied back-to-back punch outs to keep the score tied.
In the bottom of the seventh, V. Gomez smoked a 1-2 offering from lefty reliever Cody Schlagel for a clutch two-out double into the right-centerfield gap that scored both Ben Jurevicius and Lipton to grab a 5-3 lead.
USM threatened in the eighth, but the Herd used five different pitchers to escape still up by two runs. Tyler Gatrell (3-2) worked a scoreless sixth and seventh frame before walking B.A. Vollmuth to start his third inning of the day. Kyle Blank and James White III each retired a batter prior to Ben Frith issued a free pass. Head coach Jeff Waggoner called upon closer Austin Coan for a four-out save, as he enticed Joey Archer to ground out to end the USM opportunity with two runners on base.
MU added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth when Pellant collected his third hit of the day to bring around pinch runner Rhett Stafford.
Coan sent the Golden Eagles down in order in the ninth to earn his fifth save of the season and 13th of his career, tying Chris Meadows (2001-04) for the school record.
Pellant and Brito each went 3-for-4 and Jurevicius chipped in with pair of singles in the win.
The series finale is slated for Sunday with first pitch at 10:35 a.m.