GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of South Alabama baseball team homered four times in a 7-2 win over second-seeded Miami in Sunday’s elimination game of the NCAA Gainesville Regional at Florida Ballpark.
Michael Sandle hit two home runs and drove in three runs, Kaleb DeLaTorre hit one home run and finished with two RBIs, and Richard Sorrenti added a home run and one RBI. The Jags plated four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning before Miami answered with single runs in the fifth and sixth innings. USA added three insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth on home runs by Sandle and DeLaTorre to cap its win, which eliminated the Hurricanes from the NCAA postseason.
JoJo Booker (8-0) earned the win in 5 1/3 innings pitched, and Tyler Samaniego tossed two scoreless innings to record his seventh save of the season.
South Alabama (35-21) will return to action Monday when it resumes the NCAA Gainesville Regional final against South Florida at 12:06 p.m. (ET) at Florida Ballpark. The game will resume with the start of the bottom of the fifth inning with the Jags leading USF 4-0 after weather forced regional officials to postpone the game until Monday.
– Miami loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the first inning on three consecutive walks by Yohandy Morales, Adrian Del Castillo and Christian Del Castillo. But Jag right-hander JoJo Booker induced an inning-ending popup to second off the bat of Raymond Gil to escape the jam and preserve a scoreless tie.
– South Alabama took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning when Richard Sorrenti lifted a 3-2 pitch from UM right-hander Jake Garland over the left field wall for a one-out solo home run. Santi Montiel followed with a double down the left field line before Ethan Wilson delivered a two-out RBI single through the right side of the infield to double the USA lead at 2-0. Michael Sandle then blasted the first pitch he saw from Garland to left field for a 4-0 Jaguar lead.
– Miami cut the USA lead to 4-1 in the top of the fifth inning on a one-out solo home run to left field by Morales.
– The Canes cut the Jag lead in half at 4-2 in the top of the sixth on a one-out solo home run to right-center field Alex Toral.
– USA pushed its lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth on a solo home run to left-center field by Sandle. Hunter Stokes drew a walk before Kaleb DeLaTorre lifted a 3-1 pitch over the right field wall for the final runs of the game.
– Sandle extended his on-base streak to 25 games with a two-run home run to left field in the bottom of the third.
– Cam Tissue extended his on-base streak to eight games with a two-out single in the bottom of the fourth.
– Booker (8-0) allowed two runs on four hits with four strikeouts and five walks in 5 1/3 innings pitched to earn his eighth win of the season.
– Samaniego tossed two scoreless innings, and struck out three with one walk to record his seventh save of the year.
– Six Jaguars hit safely in the game, led by Sandle who went 2-for-4 with two home runs, three RBIs and two runs scored.
– DeLaTorre finished with one home run, two RBIs and one run scored, and Sorrenti added a home run, one RBI and one run scored.
– The win advanced the Jags to the NCAA Gainesville Regional final, which marks the second time under head coach Mark Calvi that USA has played in a regional final.
– South Alabama will attempt to advance to an NCAA Super Regional for the first time in program history in the NCAA Gainesville Regional final against South Florida.
– The win marked the Jags’ seventh in their last eight games dating back to the regular-season finale win at Appalachian State.
– USA improved to 6-1 in postseason play dating back to the Sun Belt Conference Championship.
Head Coach Mark Calvi
– Opening Statement:
“I am super proud of our guys. Just the way they have responded all year – this team is tough; they know, we know it and I don’t need to tell them that. They’re not out until it’s over. They just play hard and keep coming. They believe in themselves. You look at JoJo’s (Booker) numbers in 5 1/3 (innings) with four hits. He walked five and hit one; he gave a lot of free passes. Some days JoJo does that and some days he doesn’t. But the mark of a good pitcher is the batting average against with men on (base), and his is lower without men on. So I have learned not to get all uptight when JoJo has a day like he had today, because the kid has guts, hangs in there and finds a way to make pitches. You just kind of run with it. He is hard to hit. And Jase Dalton coming in in a huge situation, and then Tyler Samaniego was absolutely phenomenal like our pitching has been all year long. I am just proud of our team, and we’re moving on to the next game.”
– On the offense:
“I tell these guys a bunch that if you are the right person, things aren’t going to go against you all the time. Sometimes it might suck and doesn’t feel good, but your window of opportunity comes around whether it is a small or big opening. If you get too down you miss your opportunity to go through it. Our guys kept grinding all year long even when it didn’t feel good, and the game is coming back to them. They are taking every opportunity that is presented to them for the most part. To me, that’s a testimony to the makeup of some of the players we have.”
– On two-out runs scored:
“We have three outs per inning, and we’re not giving anything away. Sometimes you score with no outs or one out, and recently it has been with two outs. I am glad, because two outs are back breakers; they break the other team more so than runs with less than two outs. It’s that two-out hit or walk followed up with a home run, it just breaks your back. Our guys get three outs per inning and they are using every single one of them.”
Center fielder Michael Sandle
– On the three-run eighth inning:
“We knew we had the top of the lineup coming up, so we knew we had a shot at scoring a few runs. I took it upon myself, because I owed that kid (Carson Palmquist) one. He got me out in a big situation on Friday, and I’ve been sitting on it. I know you’re not supposed to dwell on the past, but I didn’t forget about it. Going up there I had a lot of confidence. I had seen everything he was throwing, I just wanted to put a good swing on it and get on base to help the team win.”
– On the confidence of the offense:
“It doesn’t matter who you are running out there, our game plan stays the same. We stick to our approach, and just let the chips fall where they may.”
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