Baseball Holds on to Take Final Game of Series



May 16, 1999

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Tulane got seven two-hit innings of work from starter Dan O'Gara and held off another late Southern Miss rally to take an 8-3 victory over the Golden Eagles Sunday afternoon.

The win clinched the second place in the Conference USA race for the Green Wave (41-15, 19-8) while dropping the Golden Eagles (36-19, 18-9) into third.

Tulane used a four-run fourth inning to stake O'Gara (7-2) to a 5-0 lead. Jake Gautreau's two-run homer off Southern Miss starter Charlie Rogers (3-5) was the big blow of the inning.

That was more than enough for the Green Wave hurler, who allowed just two hits through seven innings while striking out five. He did, however, run into trouble in the eighth as Southern Miss mounted another improbable comeback.

Eric McMaster was hit by an O'Gara pitch, one of five Eagles batters to geat beaned in the game, to open the eighth. Michael Artman and Dusty Haley followed with singles to plate one run and chase O'Gara. Jared Robinson came on and appeared to have gotten the Green Wave out of trouble with a ground ball and a strikeout, but Darren Welch walked and Jeremy Albritton followed with a two-run double to cut the Tulane lead to 6-3.

After Matt Baltz was hit by a Robinson pitch, Tulane brought in closer Brandon Belanger, who got Eagles third baseman Luke Wheeler to pop out to second with the bases loaded to end the threat.

Tulane, which saw last inning leads disappear on both Friday and Saturday, added a pair of insurance runs in the ninth on Mickey McKee's two-run single. Belanger got three ground balls to second in the bottom of the inning to secure the victory and earn his league-leading 14th save of the year.

Jason Sparks led Tulane's 12-hit attack with three hits while Albritton had two of the Eagles' five hits in his final home game.

Southern Miss will now square off with Louisville at 9 a.m. on Wednesday in the opening round of the Conference USA Championship Tournament at Millington, Tenn. Tulane will play the highest seeded play-in game winner in the 12:30 p.m. game on Wednesday. If the two teams win they would meet in the second round of the tournament at 4 p.m. on Thursday.