Argos fall to Delta State in 10-inning thriller at GSC tournament
UWF looks ahead to NCAA tournament selections on Sunday
CARROLLTON, Ga. - The No. 11 ranked West Florida baseball team held two leads early in the game and came back and tied the game with three runs in the ninth, but their efforts were not enough as No. 5 ranked Delta State escaped with an 8-7 win in 10 innings in an elimination game at the Gulf South Conference tournament at West Georgia. The loss knocked the Argonauts out of the GSC tournament, and they will now wait for the NCAA tournament selections to be announced on Sunday.
The Argonauts (35-12) were down by three runs in the top of the ninth, but they rallied to tie the score 7-7. After tying the score UWF had a bases loaded situation with one out and Max St. Hilaire (Largo, Fla./St. John's River State) at the plate, and St. Hilaire was hit by a pitch. After the Argos appeared to have scored a go-ahead run, St. Hilaire was called back to the batters' box and the umpire ruled that the pitch hit the bat and was a foul ball. The Argos were then retired to end the inning, and DSU won it in the 10th on a walk-off single by Tyler Aldridge.
"First and foremost, I was proud of our team's fight to stay in the game," said UWF head coach Mike Jeffcoat. "We had a lot of heart, a lot of fight and a lot of will, there's no question about that. We just came up on the short end of the stick there in the end."
UWF was first to score, as shortstop Josh Allen (Fort Meade, Fla./State College of Florida) brought in a run on a single in the fourth inning. DSU (40-8-1) responded with three runs in the fifth thanks to a double by Carlos Leal and a sacrifice fly by Sam Kidd.
The Argos had a three-run inning of their own in the sixth to take a 4-3 lead. Second baseman Kaleb Barlow (Florence, Miss./Chipola) hit his ninth home run of the year to lead off the inning, and the Argos added runs on a triple by first baseman Cliff Covington (McIntosh, Ala./Alabama Southern CC) and a squeeze bunt by Chase Kiefer (Pensacola, Fla./Pensacola Catholic HS).
UWF starting pitcher Drew Bryson (Cullman, Ala./Wallace State) lasted 6.1 innings, and he didn't allow a run until the three-run inning by DSU in the fifth.
"We got a solid performance by Bryson," said Jeffcoat. "He kept us in the game and left with the lead."
The Statesmen took the lead with three runs in the seventh and one in the eighth, but the Argos' ninth inning rally tied the score again. Covington doubled to lead off the inning, and the Argos loaded the bases after an infield hit by Kiefer and a walk by pinch hitter Austin Southall (Baton Rouge, La./Chipola). The first run came in on a walk by center fielder Dustin Saulmon (Panama City, Fla./Alabama Southern CC), and right fielder Drew Prichard (Mobile, Ala./Troy) singled in two more runs to tie the score.
With the score tied 7-7, Barlow then drew a walk to load the bases. St. Hilaire then came to the plate, and after the contested pitch that was ruled a foul ball he struck out for the second out. DSU reliever Garrett Pickens then struck out a second batter in a row to end the threat.
Tyler Aldridge's walk-off single in the 10th came off UWF reliever Ben Bridges. Bridges (2-1) lasted 2.2 innings and was credited with the loss. Pickens picked up the win for DSU (3-0) after striking out all five batters he faced.
The NCAA tournament field will be announced on NCAA.com on Sunday, May 12 at 9 p.m. CT. The top six teams, including automatic qualifying conference champions from the GSC, SIAC and SSC, will earn bids to the NCAA South Regional. UWF was ranked No. 5 in last week's NCAA regional rankings.
For information on all UWF athletics, visit www.GoArgos.com.