May 23, 2008
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Sixth-seeded Marshall received a sacrifice fly from Ben Jurevicius in the ninth inning but No. 2 Southern Miss was able to get out of a one-out bases-loaded jam to help the Golden Eagles to a thrilling 5-3 victory over the Thundering Herd in Friday afternoon's 2008 Entergy Conference USA Baseball Championship game.
With the loss, Marshall (27-29-1) will play in an elimination game Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. ET against No. 3 Tulane. Should the Herd win, it will play a second game Saturday against Southern Miss (40-18) at 5:00 p.m. ET.
Trailing 5-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Brandon Casamassima drew a leadoff walk off Southern Miss closer Tyler Conn, before a pinch-hit single through the left side by Kurt Lipton advanced him to third base. After Matt Helm entered to run for Lipton, Jurevicius brought Marshall closer with a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Casamassima and bringing the score to 5-3. Adam Yeager then singled to center field, moving Helm to second. Helm then stole third giving the Herd runners on the corners. Josh Valle was then hit by a pitch to load the bases. Blake Sanders ran for Valle, putting speedsters at all bases. Conn registered a strikeout before Victor Gomez tagged a 1-1 pitch to deep left field that fell just a foot short of going over the wall for the final out of the ball game.
"It was one of the great college baseball games," head coach Jeff Waggoner said following the competitive game. "Both teams fought hard and we had a chance to win late with our three and four hitters up. That's all you can ask for. Our guys did a great job of answering back, and then their guys did the same thing. Both teams fought hard, it was a well-pitched game, and unfortunately, someone had to lose. "
Southern Miss starter Barry Bowden (8-3) picked up the win while Herd starter Dan Straily
(4-4) suffered the loss. Conn picked up his 18th save of the season. Bowden tossed six strikeouts in six innings and gave up just two runs on four hits and issued just one free pass. Straily allowed four runs on six hits and fanned four batters in 7.2 innings of work for the Herd.
Yeager played his 57th game of the season and is now Marshall's single-season leader in games played.
Southern Miss started the scoring in the top of the second when Drew Carson sent a one-out 3-2 pitch to deep left field for his 11th home run of the year to give the Golden Eagles a 1-0 lead.
With one gone in the Herd's fourth, Gomez singled up the middle before Jeff Rowley singled and then advanced to second on a throwing error to first by Bowden, sending Gomez to third. A groundout to the right side of the infield plated Gomez who was running on the pitch, to knot the game at 1-1. Bowden then induced a groundout to end the inning.
Carson crossed the plate again for the Golden Eagles in the top of the fifth after he doubled to lead off the frame, advanced to third on a groundout and then scored on an RBI single to left field by Keith Winstead. Winstead then stole second before Straily dealt his third strikeout and forced a fly out to end the inning, but Southern Miss took a 2-1 lead.
Marshall continued the back-and-fourth affair when Jurevicius launched his second home run of the season down the left field line, evening the contest at two runs apiece in the home half of the fifth, before Bowden retired the next two hitters to preserve the tie.
Brian Dozier put the Golden Eagles back on top when he took a 1-0 pitch to deep left to give Southern Miss the 3-2 edge. Straily was able to retire the next three batters in order to keep the deficit at one.
Gomez picked up his second hit with a base-knock in the bottom of the sixth with one down. He advanced to second on a sharp hit to first base, sliding just under the tag to avoid the double-play. He then reached third when Tommy Johnson struck out but was safe at first after a throwing error by Winstead to give the Herd runners at the corners with two gone. Bowden got out of the jam when he forced a lineout to shortstop.
Southern Miss extended its lead to 4-2 in the top of the seventh when Carson ripped a leadoff single through the left side and then advanced to second on a well-placed bunt single by Chris Matesich. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners over 90 feet before a groundout by pinch-hitter Corey Stevens plated Carson.
Wade Weathers replaced Bowden in the seventh and retired the first two batters in order before Yeager slapped an infield single to second. Yeager then scampered to second with his 44th stolen base before Josh Valle lined a rope into left field that was tracked down by Carson to keep the Herd from scoring.
Herd reliever Ryan Kiel entered in relief of Straily with two outs in the eighth and gave up a hit and induced a fly out to end the inning.
Trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the eighth, Nate Lape poked a single into shallow center field, advanced to second on a wild pitch and then went to third on a groundout. Conn replaced Weathers with one out in the inning and got the next two batters to keep the lead at two runs.
Southern Miss continued to swing the bats in the top of the ninth when Carson notched his fourth hit of the game, a double to left field. He advanced 90 feet on a fly out to right field before he stole home to give the Golden Eagles a 5-2 lead.