GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of South Alabama baseball team tallied season highs in hits and runs scored in a 19-1 win over 14th-ranked Florida Saturday in an NCAA Gainesville Regional elimination game at Florida Ballpark.
USA (34-21) held a 4-1 lead after five-and-a-half innings before erupting for 10 runs on 10 hits in the bottom of the sixth to build a 14-1 lead. The Jags added five additional runs in the bottom of the seventh on three home runs to cap their 19-1 victory, and finished with 21 hits in the contest.
Right-hander Miles Smith (7-1) allowed one run on five hits with five strikeouts, and did not issue a walk in six innings pitched to record his third win in less than a week after posting two wins at last week’s Sun Belt Conference Championship.
Every USA starter hit safely in the game, and seven Jags recorded multiple hits. Kaleb DeLaTorre finished with a career-high four hits, including a home run, and Santi Montiel drove in a career-high five runs and hit one home run.
South Alabama will return to action Sunday at noon in the NCAA Gainesville Regional when it faces the loser of South Florida and Miami in an elimination game at Florida Ballpark.
– Jacob Young led off the game with a single to center field, moved to second on a wild pitch from Jag right-hander Miles Smith, and advanced to third with one out on a groundout to first base by Nathan Hickey. Young attempted to tag up and score on a flyout to left field off the bat of Jud Fabian, but was put out at the plate on Ethan Wilson’s throw to home to cap the inning-ending double play.
– Montiel drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first, moved to second when Michael Sandle reached on a hit by pitch and scored on a one-out single up the middle by Hunter Stokes for a 1-0 Jag lead. DeLaTorre followed with an RBI single to right field to plate Sandle and double the USA lead at 2-0.
– Florida answered in the top of the third on a sacrifice fly to left field by Mac Guscette to cut the Jag lead in half at 2-1.
– Sandle reached on a throwing error by UF third baseman Nathan Hickey to lead off the bottom of the fifth then stole second. DeLaTorre drew a one-out walk before Cam Tissue delivered a two-out, two-run double to right-center field to score Sandle and DeLaTorre for a 4-1 Jaguar lead.
– Hunter Donaldson drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the sixth, and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Montiel. A two-out infield single by Sandle put runners at the corners with two outs. Stokes followed with an RBI single to right field to plate Donaldson for a 5-1 lead. DeLaTorre then delivered an RBI single to left field to score Sandle for a 6-1 USA advantage. Andrew Bates followed with an RBI single through the left side of the infield for a 7-1 lead. Tissue followed with a two-run single to center field to extend the Jag lead to 9-1. Richard Sorrenti then delivered an RBI single to center field to score Tissue for a 10-1 USA advantage. Donaldson doubled to right center before Montiel delivered a two-run single through the left side of the infield to push the Jag lead to 12-1. Wilson followed with an RBI single to center field for a 13-1 lead. Sandle then delivered an RBI single to right field to plate Wilson for a 14-1 lead.
– DeLaTorre led off the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run to right field for a 15-1 advantage. Bates followed with a solo shot to right field for a 16-1 USA lead.
– Sandle extended his on-base streak to 24 games when he reached on a hit by pitch in the bottom of the first inning.
– Cam Tissue extended his on-base streak to seven games with a two-run double to right-center field in the bottom of the fifth inning.
– USA’s 10-run sixth inning marked the first time the Jags have scored 10 runs in one frame since March 8, 2019, when they plated 10 runs against Sacred Heart.
– The Jags’ 19 runs marked a season high, and is the most by a USA team since April 2, 2019, when USA scored 15 runs at Southern Miss.
– USA’s 21 hits marked a season high, and is the most by a Jag team since May 13, 2017, at Appalachian State when South Alabama recorded 25 hits.
– The Jags’ three home runs in the bottom of the seventh marked the first time the Jags have homered three times in an inning since May 12, 2013, at Louisiana.
– Every Jag starter hit safely in the game, marking the first time since May 7, 2019, at Southeastern Louisiana.
– The back-to-back home runs by DeLaTorre and Bates in the bottom of the seventh marked the first time the Jags have accomplished the feat since March 14 of this season when Wilson and Tommy van de Sanden went back-to-back.
– Right-handers Tyler Perez and Noah Michael, and left-hander Andy Arguelles tossed one scoreless relief inning apiece.
Head Coach Mark Calvi
– Opening Statement:
“It is a strange game we are all a part of. Yesterday we couldn’t touch the plate once, and tonight we touched it 19 times. I’m just proud of my team and their effort, and the way they fought back. I’m proud of Miles Smith, he is an absolute bulldog. He set the tone, and was outstanding. Our guys just fought – they battled. We had some great at-bats. They came out fighting, and we beat a really good Florida team. I’m really proud of our effort, but we have a long way to go. We’re in the loser’s bracket, but everything has been hard for us this year. Our mantra has been win the next game, and that’s what it is. We’re on to whoever we play tomorrow, and it’s all about winning the next game. We have to get good pitching and good defense – offense comes and goes. Loved it today and we’ll enjoy, but tomorrow is a new day so right now we will enjoy today. I’m super proud of my guys, all the coaches and everyone involved and how they bounced back and played today.”
– On the offense:
“You could see some guys turning the corner the last month of the season, and today it kind of all came together. You never predict scoring 19 runs, the guys never lost confidence and worked all year long. They never quit working, never stopped showing up and working hard every single day. It’s good to see the fruits of their labor a little bit, but we have a long way to go on this thing.”
– On Miles Smith:
“He is the one who set this game up. He’s one of the reasons why we are sitting where we’re sitting. He’s just an absolute bulldog. What he did from making the transition from reliever to starter when Jeremy Lee went down – just seamless. It’s the work he and Coach (Brad) Phillips, Chris McDonald our Certified Athletic Trainer, and strength and conditioning coach Logan Barret and the time they all put in with these guys to make sure they are in shape and bounce back. It takes a village, and we have a really good group around us. Miles is the benefactor of some really good coaches and really knowledgeable people around him helping him along the way. And the rest is just guts, he’s out there on that mound by himself. He’s all guts and is an absolute bulldog.”
First baseman Kaleb DeLaTorre
– On the 10-run sixth inning:
“Hitting is contagious, and I think that’s what happened. Everyone was feeling good and balls were finding holes. It was a great time.”
– On the offense the last month:
“That’s kind of our team mantra – whether we’re up or down we’re going to keep working. We had our struggles early on, but we just kept working and everything is starting to pay off and rolling in the right direction.”
Third baseman Cam Tissue
– On the 10-run sixth inning:
“You have to look at all the quality at-bats, and in the sixth inning there were a lot of people in two-strike counts who fought off a few pitches and got a mistake to hit somewhere. We just put at-bats together.”
– On the offense the last month:
“The mental toughness on this team is probably one of the best in the country. No one gets discouraged or panics, everybody just keeps playing their game and do what they can and let the chips fall.”
For more information about South Alabama athletics, check back with USAJaguars.com, and follow the Jaguars at Twitter.com/USAJaguarSports. Season tickets for all Jaguar athletic events can be purchased by calling (251) 461-1USA (1872).
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