Hoffpauir sparks Eagles to win over C of C

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 5, 2004

BATON ROUGE &045; In the age of restricted aluminum bats, small ball has fought its stature onto the college baseball stage.

Station-to-station, fundamental philosophies have never raised eyebrows like towering moonshots that hang more stars in the sky.

With an unfailing bond to bunts and sacrifices, College of Charleston takes it to a level almost on the brink of boredom.

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Through 3 1/2 innings it appeared that boredom was preceding tears for Southern Miss during the second game of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional at Alex Box Stadium Friday.

However, the second-seeded Golden Eagles awoke from their trance, getting some heroics from Vidalia, La., product Jarrett Hoffpauir in a 6-5 win. USM faces No. 1 seed LSU in the winner’s bracket at 3 p.m. today. The third-seeded Cougars turn right around to draw No. 4 seed Army at 11 a.m.

&uot;We were down four and five runs during the (Conference USA) Tournament and we proved to ourselves we could come back,&uot; said Hoffpauir, who had three RBIs, two of which came on a game-tying double in the seventh. &uot;We said three runs wasn’t going to beat us. That thinking paid off for us.&uot;

As fundamentally played as the nightcap was, it seemed cheap that it ended with Baton Rouge native Ryan Frith scoring the winning run off a wild pitch in the bottom of the eighth.

Charleston smashed 13 hits in the affair, but just one went for extra bases. The Cougars (45-15) sacrificed up and down the order, while chasing USM starter Patrick Ezell with no outs in the sixth inning.

After two Eagle (45-17) relievers held the line, Austin Tubb (8-0) was able to slam the door in 1 1/3 innings of work,

&uot;We were fortunate to get to Tubb. He’s one of the best in the country,&uot; USM head coach Corky Palmer said. &uot;It was a tough gamble. (Charleston) peppered the ball all over the field, true to their scouting report.&uot;

Cougar starter Ryan Johnson, an efficient righty clocked in the mid-80s but mixes up his collection well, made the 3-0 hold up until the bottom of the fourth when Carlos Velasquez laced a 0-1 offering down the left field line, cutting the Eagle deficit to 3-2.

&uot;I never had the chance to come and watch an (LSU) game here, but playing here is great,&uot; said Velasquez, a Kenner, La., native. &uot;I was just trying to put into play anywhere I could.&uot;

Hoffpauir tied it at 3s an inning later with a sacrifice fly to right to score third baseman Beau Griffin after the bases were loaded with three consecutive singles from Griffin, Matt Shepherd and Marc Maddox.

The resilient Cougars answered back with single runs in their halves of the sixth and seventh innings after the leadoff men reached base.

&uot;I didn’t feel like we executed like we were capable of,&uot; Cougar head coach John Pawlowski said. &uot;We had opportunities to extend the lead a bit, but Southern Miss can score runs in a hurry.&uot;