Jags hit 4 homers in win over Troy at SBC Tournament

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STATESBORO, Ga. – The third-seeded University of South Alabama baseball team homered four times in a 9-1 win over No. 6 seed Troy Friday in the opening round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament at J.I. Clements Stadium.

Dylan Hardy went 3-for-4 with a double, two home runs, four RBI and three runs scored, and Brendan Donovan finished 3-for-5 with two home runs, four RBI and two runs scored to lead the Jaguar offensive attack.

Jaguar right-hander Randy Bell (6-3) scattered seven hits in 7 2/3 innings, and allowed just one run with seven strikeouts and three walks to earn his sixth win of the season. Troy right-hander Andrew Crane (6-2) allowed four runs on six hits with three strikeouts and three walks in 3 1/3 innings in the loss.

"We were excited to come out and play today," USA head coach Mark Calvi said. "I was proud of our guys. Troy's starting pitcher (Crane) had a 39-inning scoreless streak coming into the ballgame. He was part of the win on (last) Thursday when they beat us. It's always a very competitive matchup when the two programs play. But I was proud of our guys' effort, really proud of Randy Bell. The game starts and stops on the mound and defensively behind him. Our guys played really well around him, and Randy did his job as usual."

Troy (31-25) loaded the bases with one out in the top of the first on a leadoff single by Matt Sanders, a walk by Brandon Lockridge and a one-out hit by pitch to Trevor Davis. But Bell rolled a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Mason Rogers to escape the jam without surrendering a run.

South Alabama (37-19) then jumped out to a two-run lead on Troy in the bottom of the first inning. Hardy reached on a leadoff double down the left field line before Donovan lifted the first pitch he saw from Crane over the right-center field wall for a 2-0 lead, which snapped Crane's scoreless innings streak at 39 2/3 frames.

The Jags put runners at the corners with no outs in the bottom of the fourth on consecutive singles by Hunter Stokes and Carter Perkins. Following a Trojan pitching change, Hardy lifted the first pitch he saw from Troy left-hander Austin Crook for a 5-0 advantage.

Hardy extended the Jaguar lead to 6-0 in the bottom of the sixth on a two-out home run to left field, his second of the contest and third of the season, on a 2-0 pitch from Crook. Colton Thomas followed with a single back up the middle, and later scored on a wild pitch from Troy right-hander Corey Childress for a 7-0 lead.

Troy pushed its lone run of the game across in the top of the eighth on a two-out RBI single to left field by Chase Smartt.

USA added the game's final runs on a one-out, two-run home run to left field by Brendan Donovan, his second of the game and ninth of the season.

South Alabama will return to action Saturday when it faces the winner of No. 2 Texas-Arlington and No. 7 Arkansas State at 2 p.m. (CT) in the second round of the SBC Tournament.