Southern Miss

Tulane thumps Southern Miss 12-7 at MGM Park

JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD 
 USM's second baseman Storme Cooper looks to first after forcing out Tulane's Jeremy Montalbano during the second inning of their game at MGM Park in Biloxi on Tuesday March 22, 2016.
JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD USM's second baseman Storme Cooper looks to first after forcing out Tulane's Jeremy Montalbano during the second inning of their game at MGM Park in Biloxi on Tuesday March 22, 2016. SUN HERALD

BILOXI - Tulane jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third and finished off Southern Miss with a 4-run ninth to earn a 12-7 victory at MGM Park.

For the second straight game in Biloxi, USM's starting pitcher struggled and the offense never quite caught up. South Alabama topped the Golden Eagles, 4-2, on March 2 as USM finishes its two-game slate at MGM Park without a win.

Tulane (14-7) got 5 2/3 innings out of its starting pitcher, J.P. France, while Houston Case lasted just 2 1/3 innings in his first start as a Golden Eagle.

France (1-0) didn't give up a hit until the fourth and gave up four runs on seven hits to pick up his first win of the season. He struck out four and walked two.

"That may be the best hitting team we've seen all year and I thought we did a pretty good job," Tulane coach David Pierce said. "(France) had something on the ball. He threw the breaking ball when he needed to and he threw the fastball in just enough. I was just real impressed with the way he competed today."

 

Case (0-1) took the loss, giving up three runs on one hit, walking two and striking out two.

Tuesday night's game was played before a crowd of 2,185 and Pierce left Biloxi with a positive review of MGM Park.

"I love it," Pierce said. "I've actually viewed a game here. It's a great setting. I love the city and I hope we can continue it."

Much of Tulane's offensive production came from the bottom of the order with the No. 6 batter Hunter Hope, No. 7 batter Richard Carthon and No. 8 man Jake Willsey combining to go 6-for-10 with seven RBIs.

Southern Miss (16-6) out-hit Tulane, 14-10, but the Green Wave benefited from nine walks and three hit-by-pitches issued by USM pitchers.

Four Tulane pitchers combined to issue just two walks

"They got the hits when they counted," USM coach Scott Berry said. "They took advantage of our walks, our hit batters. Both teams played clean defensively, but when it's all said and done we beat ourselves on the mound."

Berry has yet to decide on his pitching rotation for the weekend when USM begins a three-game series against UTSA starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

Berry said he'd like to keep senior right-hander Cord Cockrell in his usual Friday spot, opening up the possibility that senior right-hander Nick Johnson will be on the mound Thursday against UTSA.

Tulane will start a three-game home series against Illinois State at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.

USM catcher Chuckie Robinson had a big night at the plate, going 4-for-5 with an RBI and one run scored and two doubles.

"It's really frustrating," Robinson said of the loss. "It's never fun to play in games like this, but it's baseball and it happens."

Sophomore Taylor Braley hit the first USM homer at MGM Park with a solo shot down the left field line in the sixth inning and finished 3-of-5 with two RBIs.

Dylan Burdeaux, who knocked in two runs for USM, had home plate umpire Brian Clark take the bat from his hands and remove it from the game in the third inning.

Burdeaux was obviously annoyed by the move, but Berry understood Clark's decision, saying "There was something loose in it."

Case worked through two scoreless innings before he started to struggle with his control in the top of the third. He hit leadoff man Willsey and walked the next man, Jarret Dehart, on four pitches.

Jake Rogers brought the first Tulane run home on a one-out double to left and DeHart took home on a wild pitch in the dirt from Case, who was then replaced by Ryan Millet.

Witherspoon pushed across Rogers by grounding out to second to cap the three-run third for the Green Wave.

USM answered in the fourth with an RBI double by Robinson and Hunter Slater knocked in a run on a sacrifice fly to cut the Tulane lead to 3-2 headed to the fifth.

Tulane tacked on three more runs in the sixth thanks to a two-run triple to deep center by Richard Carthon and a sacrifice fly RBI by Willsey.

Again, USM answered with two runs in the bottom of the sixth with a solo home run by Braley and an RBI single by Burdeaux.

Tulane pushed one run across in both the seventh and eighth innings to make it 8-4.

USM appeared determined to make it a game in the eighth. Burdeaux brought home one run on a groundout to second and Jake Sandlin followed with an RBI single to left to make it 8-6 headed to the ninth.

USM pitchers walked three batters and hit another to help Tulane score four runs in the ninth and put the game out of reach for the Golden Eagles.

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