Josh Martin tossed seven scoreless innings and Austin Allison led the way at the plate with three runs batted in as No.4 seed Samford defeated No.5 seed Western Carolina, 7-0, in the final game of day one at the 2012 Southern
Conference Baseball Championship at Fluor Field. The Bulldogs (36-21) advance to face top-seeded Appalachian State at 8 p.m. on Thursday night while the Catamounts (32-23) will take on Furman at 1 p.m. in an elimination battle.
Martin, an all-conference selection, worked seven scoreless innings to improve to 12-1 on the season, becoming the first Division I pitcher to reach the 12-win plateau in 2012. The 6'5" right-hander worked around three singles and four walks by fanning seven Catamount hitters. Allison was the hitting star for the Bulldogs, 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored. He doubled and scored to put Samford on the board in the third, and the shortstop followed that with an RBI sac bunt in the fourth and a two-run single in the fifth. Phillip Ervin had three hits on the evening to lead all players. Western Carolina starting pitcher Jordan Smith gave up six runs, all earned, on nine hits in 5.0 innings on the hill. Tyler White picked up two of the Catamounts' four hits on the evening.
EAGLES ROUT PHOENIX, 19-2
No. 6 seed Georgia Southern pounded out 23 hits en route to a 19-2 victory over No. 3 seed Elon in the opening round of the 2012 Southern Conference Baseball Championship at Fluor Field. Georgia Southern (31-26), which turned in the second upset in as many games at the tournament, will face No. 7 seed The Citadel Thursday at either 5 or 8 p.m. Elon (31-25) will take on No. 2 seed College of Charleston at 10 a.m. Thursday morning in an elimination game.
The 17-run margin tied a 20-year old SoCon Tournament record for the largest margin of victory, equaling East Tennessee State's 20-3 win over VMI in 1992. The game appeared to be set for a pitcher's duel as Elon carried a 1-0 lead into the fifth inning, but then the Eagles' bats came alive to plate six runs on seven hits, chasing Elon starter Dylan Clark from the contest.
After scoring a run in the sixth and a pair in the seventh, GSU sent 14 batters to the plate with nine more scoring in the eighth to stretch the margin to 18-1. Tyler Avera singled home the final run in the ninth. Michael Burruss, Chase Griffin, and Brent Pugh each had four hits for the Eagles, which recorded season highs in both hits and runs. Pugh led the way for four RBIs and three runs scored. Avera and Burruss added three RBIs while eight different GSU players scored at least twice in the contest.
Eagle starter Chris Beck (6-7), last season's tournament most outstanding player, continued his postseason brilliance by allowing one run on five hits in 7.0 innings of work. The right-hander fanned six against one walk. Clark (9-4) took the loss for the Phoenix as he was tagged for five earned runs on seven hits through 4.2 innings on the mound. Quinn Bower was 2-for-4 with a double to lead Elon at the plate.
BULLDOGS PULL OFF SHOCKER
Seventh-seeded The Citadel scored twice in 11th inning to outlast No. 2 seed College of Charleston, 8-6, in the opening game of the 2012 Southern Conference Baseball Championship at Fluor Field. The Citadel improves to 25-31 and will move on to play tomorrow at either 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. College of Charleston (37-19) moves into the consolation bracket and will play tomorrow at 10 a.m. The teams' opponents are based on the results of the game between Elon and Georgia Southern with the winner facing the Bulldogs and the loser matching up against the Cougars.
Justin Mackert led the Bulldogs with a 2-for-4 effort, including a home run and 3 RBIs while right fielder Tyler Griffin went 3-for-5 with a pair of runs batted in, including the game-winner in the 11th. The Citadel wasted little time against the conference's Pitcher of the Year, starting the first inning with three consecutive singles by Orvin, Davis, and Mackert. Mackert drove in Orvin on his infield single while Joe Jackson's sacrifice fly to left field brought home Davis to stake the Bulldogs to an early 2-0 lead. Powell prevented further damage by striking out the last two batters, leaving runners at the corners.
The Bulldogs added two more in the second on just one hit while Mackert added an insurance run in the eighth inning with a towering home run over the Green Monster in left field to stretch the margin to 6-2. Trailing by four, the Cougars rallied for four runs with two outs in the bottom of eighth inning to knot the score at six apiece. Pinch hitter Tyler Jackson had the big blow with a three-RBI, bases-clearing double to the gap in right center field. Marty Gantt followed that with a single to left to plate Jackson.
In the decisive 11th inning, Joe Jackson led off the Bulldogs' frame with a single to left and was replaced at first to pitcher TJ Clarkson who reached on a fielder's choice. Griffin then drove a double into the gap in right center to plate Clarkson. An error by CofC third baseman Brandon Glazer, one of Charleston's four miscues on the day, allowed Griffin to cross the plate to make the score 8-6. Clarkson pitched the final 3.1 scoreless innings, surrendering just one hit. He earned the win to improve to 4-4 on the year while also scoring the game-winning run.
The Citadel starting pitcher Austin Pritcher allowed two runs on four hits in 6.0 innings of work but was left with a no decision. Powell surrendered a season-high five runs although only two were earned. He struck out four.
Photo Courtesy: Josh Martin, Samford, SoCon Athletics