FIU walked off against Southern Mississippi and walked into the Conference USA baseball tournament.
Irving Lopez launched a game-tying homer in the eighth inning, Zack Soria raced home on a 10th-inning wild pitch, and the host Panthers clinched a spot in next weekend’s eight-team field with a 6-5 victory over the 13th-ranked Eagles on Thursday night.
Soria led off the 10th with a triple down the right-field line and scored the winning run when Nick Sandlin’s 1-1 pitch to Rey Perez sailed to the backstop.
Southern Miss (36-16, 20-8 C-USA) had rallied to turn a 4-0 deficit into a 5-4 advantage, scoring three runs in the sixth to pull within one, tying the game in the seventh on Chase Scott’s sacrifice flying, and taking the lead in the eighth on Nick Dawson’s double to straightaway center.
The Eagles called on Sandlin for a six-out save, but Lopez lined a full-count offering over the wall in right to tie the game at five with two outs in the bottom of the eighth.
Cord Cockrell, making his first start for Southern Miss since experiencing shoulder soreness on May 6, left after hurling three scoreless innings, but the Panthers (26-27, 13-15 C-USA) broke through for four runs against his replacement, Jake Winston.
Cody Crouse delivered his third consecutive quality start for FIU (26-27, 13-15 C-USA), allowing three earned runs over six innings. Crouse struck out four and walked two.
The Panthers won last year’s C-USA tournament as the eighth and final seed, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament as a result. FIU concludes the regular season this weekend with two more games against Southern Miss.
▪ St. Thomas gets to title game: Andrew Denis pitched a complete game with eight strikeouts to lead No. 3 seed St. Thomas (38-21) over No. 1 seed Tennessee Wesleyan (47-13) 4-1 in the opening round of the NAIA Baseball National Championship in Kingsport, Tennessee.
The win sets up a championship game between the same schools at 9 a.m. Friday at Hunter Bryce Stadium. The winner of Friday’s game will advance to the Avista-NAIA World Series.
St. Thomas won an elimination game earlier Thursday to stay alive in the opening round, defeating No. 5 seed Rio Grande (Ohio) 9-6.
▪ Awards: Two of Barry’s best were recognized for their on-field play as Alexander DeGoti and Ryan Baldwin were named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association All-South Region First Team.
Nova Southeastern placed three on the NCBWA First Team, as Alex Mateo, Devin Raftery and Brandon Gomez earn their second postseason awards in as many days. Mateo was named first-team starting pitcher, Raftery first-team relief pitcher and Gomez first-team designated hitter.
No. 4 Nova Southeastern hit the midway point of the 2016 NCAA National Championship in fourth place and has three individuals in the top 25 heading into the third round in Aurora, Colorado.
The top individual Shark is Michelle Ruiz (72-73), who is in 10th place. Mailen Domecq Chantry has a 146 total and sits in 14th, while Sophie Madden (150) is 23rd.
Nova Southeastern’s Richard Mansell finished fifth at the 2016 NCAA Division II Championship with an 8-under total in Denver.
Meanwhile, Barry’s team tied for fourth in the 54-hole, stroke-play format. Barry will play Lynn in Friday’s match-play quarterfinals.
track and field
ACC champions Shakima Wimbley and Alysha Newman were among the members of the University of Miami program accepted to compete at the 2016 East Preliminary on May 26-28 in Jacksonville.
Nova women take first in MAYORS’ CUP
The full-season 2015-16 Sunshine State Conference Mayors’ Cup standings were released, and the Nova Southeastern women’s squads earned first place for the first time since 2008, while the men placed sixth.