Jags Sweep Red Wolves

Entering this weekend's series against Arkansas State, the South Alabama Jaguars desperately needed some positive results. A mid-April seven game winning streak had been replaced by a seven game losing streak as the month ended and May began. This downturn in fortunes had the Jags in danger of missing the Sun Belt Tournament.

Before this series began, USA was in seventh place, a game behind Arkansas State. Certainly this is not what the fans of South Alabama had in mind for Coach Steve Kitrell's final season. Luckily his players must have thought the same thing.

In Game One, Garrett Harris did a workman-like job as he pitched 8.1 innings in a the 10-5 victory. USA had jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning only to have the Red Wolves tie it up in their half of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the bottom of the fourth put USA ahead to stay as Brad Hook got the last two outs of the win.

Hook would figure much more prominently in Game Two. The Jags had the game tied at three in the fourth inning when the Red Wolves began pulling away. It seemed all the baserunners that USA had failed to score earlier in the game were about to cost them a victory as they entered the bottom of the ninth trailing 7-3. With the bases loaded and two-outs, Hook launched a dramatic, game-tying grand slam over the fence. In the tenth inning Jake Overtreet brought Taylor White into score with a single that won the game 8-7.

Game Three also required a Jag rally, but not to the level of Game Two. USA had fallen behind 3-0 in the top of the fourth inning. In the bottom of the fourth, however, USA scored four times to take the lead for the first time in the game on their way to a 7-4 win. Pitcher Carlton Paris went the distance for the first complete-game shutout of his career.

USA now sits solidly in sixth place, two games behind WKU, ULL and FAU, who are tied for third place in the Sun Belt. USA remaining conference games are three each against WKU and conference leading Troy. WKU will play rival MTSU to finish their season after the USA series and FAU will close with a series against UALR and another against second-place FIU. ULL will play MTSU and ULM as the season closes.

Mathmatically, USA could still miss the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, but this weekend's sweep makes that highly unlikely. The mission now is to try to improve the team's seeding as much as possible and hopefully send Coach Kitrell out on a high note.

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