Southern Miss rallies past UAB

HATTIESBURG – Kameron Brunty hit a game-winning, three-run home run off the rightfield foul pole in the bottom of the ninth to lift No. 12 Southern Miss to an 8-5 victory over UAB here Sunday afternoon at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field.

The Golden Eagles (36-11 overall, 14-4 C-USA) maintained their two-game lead over Rice in the league standings as both teams swept their respective series over the weekend. The Owls won three games at Cougar Field at the University of Houston.

Southern Miss had to rally from a 5-0 deficit in the contest and was no-hit for six-plus inning, but scored in each of the last three frames to capture the victory and win their fifth of six league series this spring – including three sweeps.

“That was a great come-from-behind win,” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. “We didn’t start well – I thought we were a little lethargic. In a lot of ways I thought this game paralleled last Sunday’s game at East Carolina, but we were able to push through this one and get the win.

“Kameron Brunty hadn’t had a good weekend, but one thing we talk about is that your last at-bat is usually the most important, and that’s what you have to focus on. Fortunately, he put a good swing on a pitch and gave us the win.”

With the score tied at 5-5 in the ninth, Isaac Rodriguez led off with a walk. Chase Fowler then reached on a sacrifice bunt that the Blazers could not field to put runners on first and second. After a popout bunt by Ashley Graeter, Brunty hit reliever Ryan Nance’s first pitch halfway up the foul pole to lift the Golden Eagles to the victory.

It was only the 12th home run surrendered by UAB pitching this season. The Blazers fell to 25-22 and 9-12.

UAB starter Ben Bullard pitched to just one batter over the minimum through six innings as the Blazers got a pair of two-run home runs from Patrick Palmeiro and Keith DePew in the fourth and then added a RBI single by Jamal Austin in the sixth to take a 5-0 advantage.

After hitting Tyler Koelling to start the seventh, B.A. Vollmuth homered for a team-best 12th time to make the score 5-2.

The Golden Eagles then tied the score in the eighth as Chase Fowler and Graeter led off the frame with singles. The Blazers then went to Nance in the bullpen and he promptly walked Koelling to load the bases.

Kooelling then went to rightfield for a single to score one run and Marc Bourgeois batted one through the right side to score two runs and tie the game.

The Golden Eagles, which went to Collin Cargill in the eighth and got out of a bases loaded jam with a double play, found themselves in the same predicament in the ninth and the senior right-hander enticed DePew to hit a come-backer and Southern Miss turned another double play to get out of the ninth to keep the game tied.

USM’s two double plays in the contest give them a nation’s best 69 for the campaign.

Southern Miss returns to action Friday when they travel to Houston (22-26, 9-9) for a three-game set at Cougar Field.

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