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South Alabama opens SBC baseball tournament with win over Georgia Southern

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LAFAYETTE, La. – The fourth-seeded University of South Alabama baseball team scored multiple runs in each of its first two frames in a 5-3 win over No. 5 Georgia Southern Wednesday in the opening round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament at Russo Park.

USA (31-23) plated two runs in the first inning, and scored a pair in the second while adding the game's final run in the bottom of the eighth for the victory, which marked its seventh straight win over Georgia Southern (29-25) dating back to last season.

South Alabama will return to action Thursday when it faces the winner of No. 1 Coastal Carolina and No. 8 UT Arlington at 4 p.m. at Russo Park.

GAME FACTS

- Jason Swan and Mitchell Golden reached on consecutive singles to start the top of the first inning. Austin Thompson followed with an RBI single to left field to score Swan with the game's first run.

- Travis Swaggerty reached on a one-out infield single to first in the bottom of the first inning, and moved to second on a two-out single through the right side of the infield by Carter Perkins. Wells Davis followed with a walk to load the bases for Paul Russo, who delivered a two-out RBI single up the middle to plate Swaggerty and tie the game at 1-1. Hunter Stokes then drew a walk to plate Perkins for a 2-1 Jaguar advantage.

- Steven Curry drew a one-out walk in the top of the second inning, and advanced to second on a single by Nolan Tressler. A wild pitch from Jaguar right-hander Tyler Carr allowed both runners to move into scoring position with one out. Swan followed with a sacrifice fly to left-center field to score Curry and tie the game at 2-2.

- Dylan Hardy singled to left field with one out in the bottom of the second inning then stole second with two outs. A wild pitch from Eagle right-hander Chase Cohen allowed Hardy to move to third before Brendan Donovan reached on a walk to put runners at the corners with two outs. Perkins followed with a two-run double to left field to score Hardy and Donovan and double the Jaguar lead at 4-2.

- Thompson led off the top of the third inning with a single, stole second and scored one batter later on an RBI double to right field by Tyler Martin to cut the Jaguar advantage to 4-3. Christian Avant followed with a single to center field to put runners at the corners with one out. But Carr rolled an inning-ending 6-4-3 to end the threat and preserve a one-run Jaguar lead.

- Michael Sandle reached on a hit by pitch with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, and moved to third on a single by Will Luft to put runners at the corners with one out. A wild pitch from Eagle right-hander Cole Whitney allowed Sandle to score the game's final run.

NOTES

- Perkins extended his on-base streak to 13 games with a two-out single in the bottom of the first inning.

- Davis extended his on-base streak to 16 games with a two-out walk in the bottom of the first.

- Carr (9-3) allowed three runs on nine hits with four strikeouts against one walk in five innings pitched to earn the win.

- Jag right-hander Zach Greene tossed one scoreless relief inning and struck out one to record his fifth save of the year.

- USA right-hander Chase Lambert pitched three scoreless innings, and allowed one hit while striking out three without issuing a walk.

- Perkins went 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and one run scored to lead the Jaguars at the plate. Russo added one hit and one RBI, and Stokes drove in one run.

- Martin finished 2-for-4 with a double and one RBI to lead the Eagles offensively.

- Cohen (5-5) allowed four runs on five hits with five strikeouts against six walks in 4 1/3 innings pitched.

- All four of South Alabama's RBIs came with two outs.

- The win marked the Jaguars' fourth straight in the SBC Tournament dating back to last year.

QUOTES

Head Coach Mark Calvi

- On the win:

"The game in general revolves around pitching and defense. Those are two things that if you don't have them, makes it hard to win. You can get out-hit and win like today, or you can out-hit somebody and not score enough runs. It's about when you get your hits, and how well you pitch and play defense and that was the story of the game today. Tyler (Carr) threw 111 pitches on Friday at Troy, and he was right around 100 through five (innings) today. It was the bend-but-don't-break mentality; he gave up some hits but only had one walk in there. He made enough pitches when he had to, and we turned a double play which was really big. And the last four innings, Chase Lambert and Zach Greene were outstanding out of the bullpen. I was very pleased with our guys' effort, and we did just enough offensively to beat a very good Georgia Southern team and some really good arms."

- On two-out RBIs today versus last weekend at Troy:

"It was timing. We hit some balls hard against some good pitchers last weekend as well. We lined out a couple of times with two outs, but that's how the game goes sometimes. As soon as that series was over, it was over and we moved on. These guys understand what they're doing, and it's part of the game. We all wanted to get an extra hit here or there last weekend, but they had something to do with that as well in a very good pitching staff in Troy. Our guys worked hard at the plate, and you hope that most of the time it happens for you but sometimes it doesn't. We were fortunate enough today to get a couple of those timely hits, and that was the difference."

- On Chase Lambert being first out of the bullpen today:

"He's a really reliable guy. You're going to have to hit him to beat him, and you will have to hit a pretty tough pitch. A lot of these guys don't see the really good curveball over and over again. He missed five weeks due to illness in the middle of the year, and he was an important part of our bullpen. And since he has come back the last three weeks or so, he has been really good for us. It forced us to go to Zach Greene a little too early sometimes in the game, and the pitches would add up a little bit and you wouldn't have him. (Chase) Lambert coming back and his effort today allowed us to keep Zach Greene in a short burst, especially here at the end of the year. I know Greene will definitely be good tomorrow, and Lambert doesn't care – he just goes out there and competes and gives you what he has and he did that today. It's been really good having him back. Chase did a really good job of keeping momentum in our dugout, even though we weren't scoring a lot for those guys at the end. He's a junior who has been around the block, and he did a really nice job for us today."

UP NEXT

South Alabama will return to action Thursday when it faces the winner of No. 1 Coastal Carolina and No. 8 UT Arlington at 4 p.m. at Russo Park.

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