West Florida outlasts Delta State to remain undefeated at South Regional
TAMPA, Fla. -- West Florida outlasted No. 4 Delta State in a 5-1 win on Friday night on the second day of the NCAA Division II South Regional hosted by Tampa. Senior starting pitcher Drew Bryson pitched his third complete game of the year and struck out 10 batters in the win.
Bryson (6-1) gave up a run in the third on an RBI single by Sam Kidd, but he kept the Statesmen (43-10-1) off the scoreboard for the final six innings. The left-hander’s 10 strikeouts were his second most this season behind an 11-strikeout performance at Union (Tenn.) on March 16.
“That was a championship caliber performance by Drew Bryson,” said UWF head coach Mike Jeffcoat. “To get a complete game win out of him and shut down a great offense like Delta State, I just can’t say enough about his performance. It really boosts our confidence and keeps our bullpen fresh for tomorrow.”
The complete was also the second of Bryson’s career in the NCAA tournament, as he lasted nine innings in a win against Tampa at the 2012 regional.
“In big games like that you have to stay within yourself,” explained Bryson. “Coach Jeffcoat is on me all the time to stay within myself and don’t get too big. The big thing tonight was getting ahead with first pitch strikes and mixing all three pitches for a strike to keep them off balance.”
The Argonauts (37-12) were able to rally for two runs in the fifth off DSU starter Josh Branstetter (9-3) thanks to Branstetter walking three batters in the inning. His third walk was with UWF first baseman Cliff Covington (McIntosh, Ala./Alabama Southern CC) at the plate with the bases loaded, which tied the score 1-1.
“We kept talking to our guys about making adjustments and not swinging at balls out of the strike zone,” said Jeffcoat. “I think that second and third time through the order they started getting a feel for the pitcher and stopped being so overaggressive. They started looking for better pitches and started taking pitches for balls.”
Shortstop Josh Allen then came to the plate with the bases still loaded, and he drove a single to right field to put the Argos on top 2-1.
“I knew that he was really depending on his slider,” explained Allen. “I knew he was going to give me one out over the plate because he certainly didn’t want to walk in another run. He left one over the middle of the plate, and I was fortunate to line one into right.”
With Bryson cruising in the late innings, UWF added three insurance runs in the eighth. Allen singled to lead off the inning, and designated hitter Austin Southall (Baton Rouge, La./Chipola) drove the ball over the right field wall for his fifth home run of the year, putting the Argos up 4-1. Another run came in later in the inning on a sacrifice fly by right fielder Drew Prichard (Mobile, Ala./Troy).
The win means that UWF will face tournament host and No. 2 ranked Tampa on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. ET. If UWF defeats Tampa, the Argos will advance to the championship round of the double elimination tournament on Sunday. If Tampa wins, UWF will come back at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday and play the winner of the midday game between Delta State and No. 20 Valdosta State.
“There’s no doubt that it’s going to be a tough turnaround for us tonight,” explained Jeffcoat. “We have to get in bed and try to get some rest. We absolutely have to come out with the same energy tomorrow as we did today. It’s going to be hot, and we’ve had the luxury of playing two night games. We’re going to have to deal with the elements and play some championship caliber baseball if we want to win.”