Mississippi Gulf Coast has been scuffling and dropped the first game Wednesday against Coastal Alabama-South, but the Bulldogs got strong pitching from Matthew DeLano and some small-ball offense to earn a split in the nightcap.
Gulf Coast won 5-2 in the second game after DeLano (So., Biloxi/Biloxi) struck out nine in four innings of two-hit relief.
“It was a team win because we had some guys come off the bench and out of the bullpen who contributed,” Gulf Coast coach Robert Keller said. “Those kinds of things can really change a season.”
“These guys have never quit, and to have guys come off the bench and out of the pen is huge.”
The Bulldogs left Ken “Curly” Farris Field with a 3-7 record after the split.
Cade Crosby (Fr., Long Beach/Gulfport) went 4-for-6 on the day with two doubles and three RBI.
His high pop-up behind third fell in to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning of Game 2.
Steve Sanderson hustled down the line on a grounder to third to force an errant throw and let another run in.
Jesse Johnson hit a two-out laser over the right-field wall for two insurance runs in the sixth.
DeLano, who threw 80-plus pitches on Friday, gave them four sterling innings. He rang up six straight Sun Chiefs at one point.
“It was first-pitch strikes,” he said. “I was throwing fastballs and curveballs for strikes, being deceptive. Getting that guy 0-1 changes the whole at-bat. The bullpen came in clutch at the end. It was a good team win.”
Bulldog pitchers struck out 14 batters in Game 2.
“That was fun to watch,” Keller said. “That’s what we’re trying to do here and take this into next week.”
Gulf Coast travels to Baton Rouge next Wednesday.
Down 7-5 in the first game, the Bulldogs loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth and had two on with no outs in the seventh but pushed only one run across. A double play and a strikeout squelched the first rally.
Brendan McCauley (So., Gulfport/Harrison Central) hit a sacrifice fly with one out in the seventh to make it 7-6, but it was followed with another fly ball to end the game.
Luke Reed struck out four in five innings of relief.
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