Huston tosses another complete game in Jags win at ULM

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MONROE, La. – Jaguar left-hander Thomas Huston tossed his second complete game of the season to lead the University of South Alabama baseball team to a 4-1 series-clinching win over Louisiana-Monroe Saturday at Warhawk Field.

Huston (4-1) allowed one run on seven hits and struck out a career-high nine batters against one walk in a career-high nine innings pitched to earn his fourth win of the season. ULM right-hander Chase Beal (3-3) allowed two runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and two walks in eight innings pitched in the loss.

"That's what Thomas (Huston) has been all year long," USA head coach Mark Calvi said. "You know what you're going to get out of him. The one thing I ask about players is I want to know what I'm going to get on a daily basis; I want a consistent effort and a consistent guy mentally. The results will fluctuate, but not that much when a guy is consistent and gives you the right mental approach.

"Thomas Huston is a guy who you know what you are going to get pretty much every single day. I'm not asking him to go out there and throw a complete game and not allow any runs or one run. All I am asking is for him to be consistent out there and be who he is. I know who he is every single day. So if he wins, loses or doesn't do well, you can deal with it because you knew who you had on the mound. I thought he was close to being scratched (from the start) today. He was feeling under the weather – you just give that kid tons of credit."

South Alabama (18-13, 8-3 SBC) jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Drew LaBounty drew a two-out walk then stole second before scoring on an RBI single through the left side of the infield by Travis Swaggerty.

"(Drew) LaBounty took a bunch of marginal pitches and got on base with a walk, then Swaggerty drove him in," Calvi said of the Jaguars' first-inning run. "For a while there, I was thinking we might have to win this game 1-0. Their (ULM) guy (Beal) was really good. (Dylan) Hardy had some good at-bats today and a big double at the end. (Jared) Barnes hit the big home run at the end, and Will Luft had a single and double. (Brendan) Donovan hit the ball hard as did Swaggerty.

"Our guys worked like crazy and we got him (Beal) out of the game. He gave us troubles; a guy like that is hard to square up. He was throwing strikes and throwing hard, up to 92 (mph), from a tough angle. It was just a good game to get. I thought our kids played extremely well, competed really hard and competed in the box. The game starts and stops on that mound and defensively. Offense will come and go. Today we got nine hits and the win – you're not going to get 15 or 16 hits every day and score double-digit runs. We would like to, but that's just not a reality. Sometimes you have to win it like this, and that's what we did. We had the right guy on the mound today."

The Jaguars doubled their lead with a manufactured run in the top of the eighth. Dylan Hardy led off the inning with a double off the center field wall, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brendan Donovan and scored on a sacrifice fly to right field by LaBounty.

USA added the game's final runs in the top of the ninth. Will Luft doubled down the left field line, and scored one batter later on a two-out, two-run home run by Jared Barnes.

ULM (9-24, 4-7 SBC) scored its lone run of the game in the bottom of the ninth when Turner Francis tripled to right-center field to lead off the inning, and scored one batter later on a sacrifice fly to left-center field by Spencer Hemphill.

Four Jaguars recorded multiple hits in the game, led by Barnes who went 2-for-3 with a home run, two RBI and one run scored. Swaggerty finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, and Luft went 2-for-4 with a double and one run scored. LaBounty added an RBI and one run scored. Francis finished 2-for-4 with a triple and one run scored to lead the Warhawks offensively.

USA will go for the series sweep in game three at 1 p.m. Sunday.