Southern loses game, series in 7-1 loss to South Alabama
MOBILE, Ala. – Right-hander Austin Bembnowski turned in his fourth quality start of the season to lead the No. 23 University of South Alabama baseball team to a 7-1 series-clinching win over Southern Sunday at Stanky Field.
Bembnowski (5-1) allowed one run on five hits, and struck out five while issuing two walks in 6 2/3 innings pitched to earn his fifth win of the season. Right-hander Ryne Long struck out a career-high seven batters, recording every out via strikeout, and allowed just one hit in 2 1/3 scoreless innings to earn his first career save. SU right-hander Troy Lewis (1-3) allowed five runs on six hits with eight strikeouts and three walks in seven innings in the loss.
"We got off to a good start," USA head coach Mark Calvi said. "I would have liked to have seen us with a few more hits, but their (Southern) kid (Lewis) pitched well. He had a good fastball and he found his breaking ball; he made enough pitches that counted to keep you off balance. But we hit seven or eight balls really hard and ended up with nine hits. We pitched well and played very good defense; I was glad to see that."
USA (30-11) spotted Bembnowski a two-run lead in the bottom of the first. Travis Swaggerty led off the inning with a ground-rule double to right field, extending his hitting streak to 13 games, and Billingsley followed with a walk. A groundout to shortstop by Drew LaBounty moved both runners into scoring position before a wild pitch from Lewis allowed Swaggerty to score the first run of the game. A second wild pitch from Lewis on a third strike to Danny Martinez allowed Billingsley to score and double the Jag lead at 2-0.
South Alabama pushed its advantage to three runs in the bottom of the third. Billingsley led off the inning with a single to center field, advanced to second on a balk by Lewis and moved to third on a groundout to shortstop by LaBounty. Carter Perkins delivered a two-out RBI single to right field later in the inning to score Billingsley for a 3-0 lead.
Southern (12-24) answered with its first run of the game in the top of the fifth on a sacrifice fly to center field by Lewis to cut the USA lead to 3-1.
The Jaguars responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh to push their lead to four runs. Ben Gann led off the inning with a single back up the middle, and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tanner Halstead. Brendan Donovan followed with a walk before Swaggerty delivered an RBI single through the right side of the infield to score Gann for a 4-1 Jag lead and put runners at the corners with one out. Swaggerty stole second before a balk by Lewis allowed Donovan to score and extend the USA lead to 5-1.
A two-out RBI double to left-center field by Gann and two-out RBI single by Tanner Halstead scored the game's final runs.
Swaggerty went 2-for-3 with a double, one RBI and one run scored, and Gann finished 2-for-4 with a double, one RBI and two runs scored to lead USA at the plate. Perkins added two hits and one RBI, and Halstead recorded one hit and drove in one run. Phillip Williams went 2-for-4 with one run scored to lead Southern offensively.
USA will return to action Tue., April 26, when it travels to Auburn, Ala., for a 6 p.m. contest against Auburn which will be broadcast by the SEC Network+.
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