No. 25 Southern Arkansas pulls away in eighth inning to upset No. 1 Delta State
CLEVELAND, Miss. -- Back-to-back RBI doubles by Tyler Cameron and Jackson McCurdy in the top of the eighth inning broke a 4-4 tie and helped propel No. 25 Southern Arkansas past No. 1 Delta State 6-5 on Tuesday evening at Ferriss Field.
The Muleriders (29-12) grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning when William Townsend singled to right field to score Cameron. That lead did not stand for long, however, as the Statesmen (27-5-1) scored an unearned run in the bottom of the frame to knot the game at one.
An inning later, the Statesmen took the lead on a RBI single to right field by Sam Kidd. On the next pitch, SAU starter Timothy Buchanan induced an inning-ending double play. Prior to that twin killing, the Muleriders' defense had turned a double play in each of the first two innings.
In the next half inning, the Muleriders regained the lead as they scored a pair of runs on a two-RBI single off the bat of Jason Dahl. The go-ahead hit by Dahl scored Ryan Dardenne and Tyler Cameron, who both walked on four consecutive pitches to lead off the inning.
After holding the Statesmen off the board in the fourth, the Muleriders extended their lead out to two-runs as Chris Quinn led off the fifth inning with a solo homerun out to left field. The Statesmen answered back with a leadoff homer of their own in the sixth inning when Michael Vinson homered to right field to cut the Mulerider lead to 4-3.
The Vinson homerun chased Buchanan from the start, prompting James Baune to come on for his first relief appearance of the year. After allowing a one-out single, Baune induced the Statesmen into their fourth double play of the game as he got out of the inning with the lead intact.
An inning later, however, the Statesmen scored an unearned run off of Baune to knot the game up at four.
In the Muleriders' next at-bats in the eighth, Dardenne led off with a well-placed a single into left-centerfield. On the next pitch, Cameron chased Dardenne home as he laced the ball past the drawn-in third baseman for a run-scoring double. In the next at-bat, McCurdy traded places with Cameron as he shot the ball the other way down the right field line.
Now leading by a pair of runs, the Muleriders turned to the bullpen once more. This time, Blake Sullivan was called upon to protect the lead and the freshman left-hander did just that by using five pitches to toss a perfect bottom of the eighth inning.
The Muleriders were unable to build on their lead in the top of the ninth inning, but in the bottom of the frame, the ball was turned over to Justin Thomas to close it out. Thomas, who was looking to tie his own single-season saves record, got into a deep jam as the first two batters reached base.
A sacrifice bunt in the next at-bat gave Thomas an out, but it also moved the base runners up 90-feet, and put the tying run in scoring position at second base. A batter later, the Statesmen pulled to within a run as Thomas got Kidd to groundout to David Harris at shortstop for the second out of the inning. Two pitches later, Thomas nailed down his record-tying 11th save of the season as he got Tyler Aldridge to groundout to Brady Capshaw at third base.