Southern Miss pounds Tulane

Published 5:00 am Thursday, May 21, 2009

HATTIESBURG — Before the first game of his final Conference USAbaseball tournament, outgoing University of Southern Mississippicoach Corky Palmer was presented an SUV provided by donors and theuniversity.

A few hours later, his Golden Eagles gave him their version of agoing-away present.

First baseman Joey Archer cranked out three hits and drove infour runs as tournament host USM pounded archrival Tulane 15-2 ineight innings Wednesday night in the final game of the openinground

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It not only was USM’s largest margin of victory over Tulane in aconference tournament game, but the Green Wave’s worst conferencetournament loss in 28 years.

Tulane coach Rick Jones could only shake his head at theevening’s outcome.

“What a night for Corky,” Jones said. “They beat us like thisand he gets a new car.

“They really took it to us. We never got out of the gate andthey swung the bats.”

Fifth-seeded USM (33-22) collected 15 hits in a game shortenedby the 10-run mercy rule.

“We came out ready to play,” said Palmer, who had announced hisretirement after 12 seasons on April 30. “I thought we had as muchfire as we’ve had all year. The crowd was tremendous.

“The big deals to me was Archer’s three-run homer and(right-hander Todd) McInnis getting out of what could have been adamaging deal that could have left them back in the game. It couldhave been a different game.”

Those two events came on flip sides of the first inning.

Tulane senior right-hander Jonathan Garrett (5-4) didn’t make itout of the first inning, as USM rocked him for four runs — threeearned — on four hits and a walk..

Three weeks earlier, Garrett had tossed a complete game againstthe Golden Eagles, holding them to two runs on five hits, with 13strikeouts and only one walk.

But with two outs in the first, center fielder Bo Davis hit adeep, slicing drive down the right-field line that Drew Allan dovefor and missed. The speedy Davis had rounded third base and washalfway down the line, when coach Chad Caillet signaled to hit thebrakes.

When the throw came into third base, Davis decided to break forhome, sliding head first ahead of the throw. The play ignited the3,028 on hand as well as the Golden Eagle dugout.

“Bo set the tempo really early and we just kind of rolled withit from there,” Archer said.

The junior then added to USM’s beat, following a single and awalk with a drive that hit the top of the left-field fence andbounded over for his ninth homer of the season and a 4-0 nothinglead.

In the bottom of the first, McInnis loaded the bases on two hitsand a walk with no outs, but a double-play grounder and a strikeoutgot C-USA’s pitcher of the year out of the inning with only one runsurrendered.

“I think I got a little too anxious going out there, trying todo a little too much with my pitches instead of just getting themover the plate and battling,” McInnis said of his start. “Thatdouble play was huge and gave us a little bit of momentum.”

After that, while USM piled up the runs, McInnis (8-4) cruised,shutting down the fourth-seeded Green Wave (32-24) on four hits anda walk over the next five innings.

Six Golden Eagles had multiple hits, including designated hitterCorey Stevens, who finished with three hits, four runs scored andtwo RBIs. Left fielder Kameron Brunty also scored four times anddrive in two runs, while shortstop B.A. Vollmuth and catcher TravisGraves had a pair of RBIs each.

Designated hitter Jared Dyer and second baseman Seth Henry eachhad two of Tulane’s seven hits. With USM holding an 11-1 lead,Dyer’s solo homer of USM reliever Cody Schlagel extended the gamein the seventh inning, but the Golden Eagles added four runs in thetop of the eighth to notch an opening-round win for the fifthconsecutive year.

USM will have little time to celebrate, meeting top seed EastCarolina (42-15) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

“We play one of the better teams in the country (Thursday),”Palmer said. “There was a lot going on (Wednesday) and I hope wecan just bottle some of it.”

Tulane will play at 12:30 p.m. in an elimination game witheighth-seeded UCF (22-34).