MONROE, La. - The ULM baseball team scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, outlasting No. 28 Southern Mississippi 2-1 in a pitcher's duel Wednesday night at Warhawk Field.
The Golden Eagles struck early in the top of the first, after Connor Barron reached second on a fielding error by ULM shortstop Jeremy Sy to lead off the game. Kameron Brunty singled up the middle to bring Barron across for the 1-0 lead. Starter Andrew Richardson picked Brunty off first, and then forced Jared Bales to ground out to short to get out of the inning.
Brandon Alexander singled the first pitch he saw from Andrew Pierce (0-1) up the middle to get the ULM momentum rolling in the bottom of the second inning. Alexander moved into scoring position after Judd Edwards was hit by a pitch. Logan Fiasco chopped out to third base to get Pierce out of the early jam.
Southern Miss (2-2) threatened again in the top of the fourth. Brunty struck a sharp double down the left field line and then advanced on a Bales single. Richardson kept the Golden Eagles off the scoreboard as he struck out Blake Brown and got Chase Fowler to ground into the 4-6-3 double play.
ULM (4-1) woke up the bats in the bottom of the fourth inning. Joey Rapp drove a 2-2 offering down the left field line to lead off the frame. An Alexander single gave the Warhawks men at first and second with one man out. Pierce forced consecutive fly outs from Taylor Abdalla and Edwards to avert the threat.
Kendall Thamm (1-0) entered for the Warhawks in the top of the sixth inning after Richardson allowed a single to Ashley Graeter. Thamm struck out Brunty, picked Graeter off first base and struck out Bales to retire the side and keep ULM within one run.
Rapp sliced a one-out base knock to the gap in left center to start the rally in the sixth. Corben Green followed one hitter later, blasting a double to the corner in right that pushed Rapp to third base. An intentional walk to Alexander set up Abdalla with the bags full of Warhawks. The right fielder lined the first pitch he saw into left field, scoring Rapp to tie the game at 1-1 and chase Pierce.
Reliever Taylor Nunez fell behind Edwards 2-1 after entering the game, but was bailed out when Edwards unintentionally hit a ball off Abdalla's foot as he was advancing to second base. The big second out brought Fiasco to the plate with the bases still loaded. Nunez struck Fiasco in the shoulder on a full-count toss, bringing in Green to give ULM a 2-1 lead.
A sharply hit ball from Fowler up the middle looked like it was going to get through off Thamm in the seventh, but Sy laid out to rob the Southern Miss catcher of a base knock. Thamm responded by punching out Dillon Day for his fourth strikeout to maintain the one-run lead (2-1).
The Golden Eagles threatened in the ninth, with Brown doubling off the center field wall to move pinch runner Andrew Furr to third base. Thamm punched out Fowler on a 1-2 count for a big out number two. Wil Browning entered from the bullpen to face pinch hitter Austin Roussel, freezing Roussel on a 2-2 offering to give the Warhawks their fourth straight win.
Rapp extended his hit streak to five games with a 2-for-4 evening. The first baseman has recorded multiple base hits in four of his five starts this season. Alexander and Edwards each added a pair of hits in the victory. Richardson threw a strong five innings in his first start of 2012, allowing no earned runs on five hits, striking out three.
Thamm was brilliant out of the bullpen, striking out seven men in 3.2 innings for his first career win.
Brunty and Bales paced Southern Miss with two base hits, with Brunty registering the team's only RBI. Pierce allowed two earned runs in 5.1 innings to take the defeat.
ULM opens a three-game weekend series against Sam Houston State Friday at 6 p.m. inside Warhawk Field.
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