MOBILE, Ala. – No. 18 South Alabama used a seven-run third inning en route to an 8-1 victory over Troy in the Sun Belt Conference series opener Thursday night at Stanky Field.
The Jaguars (40-14, 20-8 Sun Belt) clinched at least a share of the Sun Belt regular season championship with the win. The Trojans (37-16, 18-10) can also claim a share of the title with victories in the final two games of the series.
South Alabama sent 12 batters to the plate in the decisive third inning and scored the seven runs on the strength of nine hits. Nick Zaharion opened the scoring with a two-run homer and Robby Campbell made it 4-0 with a two-run triple. Graham Odom and Jordan Patterson added RBI singles before Zaharion capped the scoring with an RBI single.
Troy had prime chances to break the game open in the first and third innings as the Trojans had the bases loaded in both frames. However, James Traylor was able to escape both innings thanks to a pop up and a borderline called third strike on a 3-2 pitch.
Danny Collins, who was named a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy earlier in the day, put the Trojans on the board with single in the fifth after a leadoff single by Tyler Vaughn and walk to Logan Pierce.
South Alabama was finally able to solve Troy reliever Jeremy McGowan in the eighth after a leadoff double by Patterson and single by Nolan Early.
McGowan was solid for the Trojans as he held South Alabama to just the one run on seven hits. The sophomore struck out four and didn’t walk a batter as he threw five quality innings to help save the Trojan bullpen for the remainder of the series.
Ryan Sorce (6-2) suffered his second straight loss for the Trojans after he was charged with seven runs on 10 hits in 2.1 innings of work.
Traylor took a no-decision for the Jaguars as he flirted with disaster all night long; he walked six, allowed four hits and threw 105 pitches in just 4.1 innings. Anthony Izzio (2-0) was credited with the win after he held Troy to two hits over the final 4.2 innings of the game.
Game two of the series will take place Friday at Stanky Field with first pitch set for 6:30 p.m.