Southern Miss topples Fla. 7-6 for first CWS berth

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 8, 2009

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Corky Palmer’s retirement tour will continue at the College World Series.

Joey Archer drove in three runs, reliever Scott Copeland pitched three scoreless innings and Southern Mississippi beat Florida 7-6 on Sunday night to advance to the CWS for the first time in school history.

The Golden Eagles (40-24), the surprise of the NCAA tournament, overcame a five-run deficit to win for the 12th time in 15 games. The hot streak started shortly after Palmer announced his retirement. Now, he’ll get a storybook send-off in Omaha, Neb.

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Archer had two huge hits to get them there. He had an RBI double in the fourth, then drove in two runs with a single in the three-run eighth off Billy Bullock (3-3).

Tyler Koelling followed with a grounder to shortstop that should’ve been an ending-inning double play with the game tied at 6. But Preston Tucker, Florida’s best player, couldn’t field the throw that skipped in the dirt.

Tucker singled in the ninth to give the Gators (42-22) a chance, but closer Collin Cargill got Josh Adams to hit into a game-ending double play for his 13th save.

Teammates rushed the field and piled onto Cargill, who also got a save in Saturday’s win. The 1,000 or so supporters who made the trip to Gainesville started chanting ‘‘Corky, Corky, Corky,’’ and two players answered the call by dousing Palmer with an ice-water shower.

Maybe Copeland should have gotten one, too.

The right-hander was 1-5 with a 6.81 ERA in 14 appearances this season. But he looked downright nasty against Florida. He allowed one hit and gave the Eagles a chance to put together a comeback after the Gators tagged ace Todd McInnis early.

Florida opened up a 6-1 lead with solo home runs in the first two innings and four more in the third. Tucker’s two-out liner cleared the fence in right, then Brandon McArthur skied one to left to make it 2-1 in the second. McArthur did more damage with his next at-bat, delivering a two-out, two-run single after Josh Adams and Matt den Dekker drove in runs.

Bo Davis and James Ewing had solo homers for the Eagles, who had a chance to tie it in the fourth but ran themselves out of the inning.

Corey Stevens singled home Ewing and moved to third on Archer’s RBI double. Koelling struck out, then B.A. Vollmuth walked to load the bases with one out.

Pinch-hitter Kyle Maxie lifted a fly ball into shallow right, and third-base coach Chad Caillet had Stevens tagging and testing Jonathan Pigott’s arm. Pigott’s throw was perfect and had Stevens beat by 10 feet. Stevens, though, barreled through catcher Buddy Munroe and immediately was ejected by umpire Paul Guillie.

Munroe got in Stevens’ face and appeared to taunt him, but Stevens was the one tossed. Players from both dugouts ran onto the field, and coaches got between them to prevent the situation from escalating.

The Eagles got the final word, though, as they celebrated and posed for pictures on Florida’s field after their biggest victory in school history.