During the weekend, the University of Memphis baseball team returned to FedExPark for a three-game home series with Southern. The Jaguars, who are members of the SWAC conference, boasted a 9-2 league record and entered Friday’s game looking to get back on track after a two-run loss at Nicholls on April 2.
Early on in the first game, neither club got anything going offensively due to the stellar pitching from both sides. Hunter Smith led the way for the Tigers with seven scoreless innings and five strikeouts, but the Memphis offense only managed to put one run on the board, courtesy of a solo homer from first baseman Kyle Oulette.
However, what was a slim lead for the home side evaporated quickly as a wild pitch in the eighth scored the game-tying run for the visiting team. In the ninth, a single from second baseman Willie Ward and a pair of errors by the Tigers propelled Southern to a 6-1 victory, and the 1-0 series lead.
In the second meeting, the bats took over, and the runs piled up. Hunter Goodman’s three-run shot in the second propelled the Tigers to an early 8-2 lead, but a grand slam from Javeyan Williams in the fifth evened the score at nine for the Jaguars.
Those nine innings weren’t enough to decide the outcome of this one as they prepared for extras tied at 12. In danger of losing the series, the pressure was on for the Tigers to regain control of a game they were leading comfortably in the beginning. While neither club could get anything going in the first two additional frames, Goodman once again came up big for the Memphis offense in the form of a two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the 12th to notch a 14-12 victory. The true freshman finished 2-for-6 with five RBIs and two homers.
In the second game of a Saturday doubleheader (Sunday’s game was moved because of predicted inclement weather), both teams were looking to pick up the series-deciding win. Although it took all they had in them in the previous game, the Tigers fared better in the third contest. While the Jags were able to take a one-run lead into the fourth, it was all Memphis from there.
The fourth and eighth innings both saw the Tigers pour in five runs apiece, and their intensive focus fueled them to a 10-1 win to complete the comeback for the series victory.
“We didn’t have enough competitive at-bats Friday, and it was a sickening feeling,” Smith said. “We used the loss as motivation to come out and show the kind of team that we really are.”
With their two straight wins Saturday, the Tigers record improved to 16-14 on the year. They will now return to American Athletic Conference this upcoming weekend for conference play against UConn in a three-game series before they head to Oxford for their second matchup against Ole Miss this season. The first contest against the Huskies is set to begin April 12 at 2 p.m.