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|ULM stuns Southern Alabama in Sun Belt Conference Tournament opener|
The ULM baseball team scored five unanswered runs in the final four innings to claim a 7-4 come from behind win in 10 innings over South Alabama Wednesday in the opening game of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
Pinch hitter Jeff Fuller grooved a one-out single in the top of the eighth inning to start the ULM (29-27) rally. A Les Aulds single gave the Warhawks two men on with one man away for Jeremy Sy. Sy drew a full-count walk against Kyle Bartsch (1-4) to load the bases. Bartsch hit Caleb Clowers with his first pitch of the at-bat to score Fuller and tie the game at 4-4.
Wil Browning (7-3) retired the Jaguar side in the bottom of the eighth inning, striking out Dustin Dalken to end the frame.
Browning finished off his second 1-2-3 frame in the bottom of the ninth inning, striking out Brad Hook and Graham Odom, and forcing Robby Campbell to ground out back to the mound to send the game to extra innings.
Fuller started the 10th inning with a single up the middle, and then advanced to second on a Chris Dudley sacrifice bunt. Aulds worked Bartsch to a 3-2 count before sending a single screaming into center field, scoring Fuller to give ULM its first lead of the game (5-4). A Sy double and a two-run single through the left side off the bat of Joey Rapp pushed the Warhawk lead to 7-4.
Nolan Earley singled for South Alabama (21-34) to open the 10th inning off Browning, but the ULM right-hander retired the next batter Whitt Dorsey on a fly out to right field. Jordan Patterson grounded into the 4-6-3 double play to end the game.
Clowers extended his current hit streak to 24 games with a 3-for-5 afternoon, driving in two runs. Clowers has also reached base in 28 straight contests. Fuller, Aulds, Rapp, Sy and Taylor Abdalla each added two hits apiece for the Warhawks.
Dorsey laced a one-out single up the middle off ULM starter Randy Zeigler in the bottom of the first inning, scoring Campbell to give South Alabama a 1-0 lead. Patterson reached on a fielder's choice to second base and then moved to third base on a single by Drew Cofield. Nick Zaharion singled to right center, plating Patterson to make the score 2-0. Zeigler punched out Dalken looking to end the frame.
ULM got its first hit of the game on a Rapp single to left field in the top of the second. Brandon Alexander laced a 1-0 offering from Jarron Cito into left to give the Warhawks momentum. A sacrifice bunt by Judd Edwards moved both runners into scoring position. Abdalla came through with a one-out single to right field, scoring Rapp and Alexander to tie the game at 2-2.
South Alabama retook the lead in the bottom of the second inning, as Earley slapped a double into the right field corner, scoring Hook and Odom to give the Jaguars a 4-2 advantage. Zeigler forced Dorsey to ground out and struck out Patterson swinging to halt the surge.
Sy led off the top of the third inning with a single before advancing to third on base knock by Clowers. South Alabama second baseman Campbell made a great play to stab a Rapp line drive for the inning's first out, and Cito forced Alexander to ground into the 3-6-3 double play to stall the ULM momentum.
Campbell worked a four-pitch walk against reliever Kendall Thamm in the bottom of the fourth inning. Thamm then forced Earley to bounce into the 4-6-3 double play to end the frame.
Cito hit Sy with a pitch in the seventh inning with one out. Clowers followed by shooting a 2-1 offering into right field, scoring Sy to pull ULM within one run (4-3) and chase Cito. Reliever Jaime Dennis forced Rapp to fly out to left field for the second out of the inning. Pinch hitter Justin Stawychny reached first base on an error by the first baseman Hook to move Clowers to third and extend the inning. James Traylor struck out Edwards swinging to end the inning.
Thamm threw five innings of scoreless baseball in relief, surrendering three hits and striking out one batter. Browning allowed one hit over the final three innings, punching out three Jaguar batters to earn the win.
Earley paced South Alabama with a 3-for-5 afternoon, driving in a pair of RBIs. Zaharion added a base hit and an RBI.
ULM faces Florida Atlantic Thursday at 3 p.m. in its second game of pool play at the Sun Belt Tournament. Due to a scheduling change, the game will now be heard on 1680 AM in Monroe.
Photo courtsey of ULM
Photo caption: ULM's Jeff Fuller