CLEARWATER, Fla. — Is there nothing more dramatic than an elimination game!
For both teams, the University of South Florida and the University of Memphis, there were plenty of drama which provided a pretty good baseball game being played under a picture-perfect afternoon at the American Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament.
The suspense continued until the last out was recorded but the University of Memphis walked off into the sunset and off of green grass inside the Bright House Field, ending any kind of movie scripted season of a comeback for the University of South Florida.
The Tigers defeating the Bulls 7-5, to continue their quest for a chance at the tournament championship by continuing to win.
The game featured a pitching duel by both starting pitchers, plenty of great defensive plays and for the Tigers defense, the ability to turn four double plays that cut down the Bulls’ offense.
University of South Florida baseball coach Mark Kingston said after his team lost Thursday night to University of Connecticut, he wanted his team to come out against the University of Memphis with direction and ready to play.
Kingston’s message came across loud and clear to the Bulls’ starting pitcher Phoenix Sanders paid attention and went out to the mound to work six innings for the Bulls but did not get a decision.
The decision went to relief pitcher Michael Clarkson, he finished the season 1-5, his three innings of work produced six hits and four runs, he walked one and struck out two.
Not to be out-showed by the performance of Sanders, University of Memphis starting pitcher Connor Alexander faced 27 batters in 5.2 innings of work, not striking out a batter and walking five but the Tigers turned three double plays and that helped to keep the Bulls off of the scoreboard.
“A good job by Alexander, damage control early,” University of Memphis baseball coach Daron Schoenrock said abut his starting pitcher. “He ran out of gas, Colton Neel came in and quiets them down.”
Schoenrock called on his closer Nolan Blackwood to pitch the final two innings for the Tigers, he closed the door on the Bulls and picked up his third win of the season.
University of South Florida took a two run lead in the fifth inning only to see it evaporate in the sixth but was able to get the scored tied in the bottom of the inning.
The bats for the Bulls produced 13 hits but leaving 10 runners on base and batting 4-of-16 with runners in scoring position is something the Bulls could work on during the off season.
“Today sums up our season, probably the appropriate way for our season to end,” Kingston said. “We came up short. Lot of baseball plays went on through out that game that we are not good enough yet to get take advantage of and next year, we will.”
The University of Memphis put the game out of reach for the Bulls by scoring three runs in the ninth inning. Tigers’ second baseman Brandon Grudzielanek led Memphis at the plate going 4-of-5 and his team mate at shortstop Jake Overbey knocked in three runs and finished the game with two hits at four plate appearances.
University of South Florida showed fight in the ninth inning by scoring one run but the game ended when Bulls’ third baseman David Villar hit into the fourth double play of the game for the Bulls and with that play the 2016 baseball season for the University of South Florida came to an end.
The tournament continues for the University of Memphis as they will face the hottest team in the American Athletic Conference the University of Connecticut , the Huskies are enjoying an 11-game winning streak.
All of the tournament action will continue Saturday morning May 28, for both the Tigers and the Huskies at Bright House Field, the game is scheduled to start at 10 a.m.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation.
I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.