CLEARWATER, Fla. — A two-out walk-off double by Darien Tubbs propelled the University of Memphis baseball team to a 2-1 victory over USF in the Tigers’ final game of the American Athletic Conference Championship on Saturday night at Bright House field.
With Memphis needing a Rutgers win over Louisville and a win over USF to advance to Sunday’s championship, Louisville recorded a 9-3 victory over the Scarlet Knights to advance out of pool play and meet Houston in the title game.
With the win, Memphis finished the season 30-29 for its fourth-straight 30-win season, and making the 2014 senior class the first since 1983 to have won 30-plus games in four-consecutive years. The seniors also became the first class since 1991 to have four-straight winning seasons. With tonight’s game, veteran Ethan Gross also set a new school record with his 225th game played, surpassing K.K. Chalmer’s previous record of 224.
Reliever Craig Caufield (2-2) earned the win for Memphis, allowing three hits, one walk and zero runs while striking out four batters in 2.2 innings on the mound. Starter Dylan Toscano also had a strong outing for the Tigers, giving up five hits, one run, and one walk along with six strikeouts in 6.1 innings.
Darien Tubbs led the Memphis offense, going 3-for-5 that included one double and a triple with one RBI and a run scored.
In the first, USF (27-31) threatened by loading the bases with two outs after a single, catcher’s interference and an error in the Memphis infield. The Tigers kept the Bulls off the board though, catching Austin Lueck between third and home to end the top of the first.
Memphis struck first in the bottom of the frame as a RBI groundout by Jake Little plated Tubbs, who led off with a triple, for a 1-0 lead.
After putting a runner on third in the second inning, USF looked for its first run in the fifth after a foul out to first ended an earlier opportunity to get on the board. The Bulls put a baserunner on after a single by Kyle Teaf with one out. Teaf stole second and then moved to third on a throwing error, but a strikeout by Toscano and a groundout kept the Tigers in front.
Nik Alonso reached base after getting hit by a pitch to lead off the seventh for the Bulls. With one out, pinch runner Hayden Kelley stole second and advanced to third base after a wild pitch. After a strikeout by reliever Caufield, a high chopper by Teaf to the shortstop allowed Kelley to come home and knot the game at 1-all.
A one-out double down the left field line by Gross in the bottom of the seventh put a Tiger in scoring position. However, Gross was stranded at third after two groundouts kept Memphis from regaining the lead.
In the eighth inning, a walk and a hit by pitch put Carter White and Kane Barrow on for the Tigers with two outs, but a strikeout looking by Jordan Strittmatter ended the threat by Memphis.
The Bulls attempted a two-out rally in the ninth after Lueck singled to center and Teaf walked to put two on base. However, Caufield’s fourth strikeout of the contest was a big one to help the Tigers escape the inning.
Back-to-back two-out walks forced USF to make a pitching change in the bottom of the ninth, bringing in Tommy Peterson for Lawrence Pardo. On a 1-0 count, Tubbs lifted a ball to right center out of the right fielder’s outstretched glove to bring home pinch runner Corey Chafinand give the Tigers the 2-1 win.
Louisville finished 2-1 in pool play as did the Tigers and by virtue of the head-to-head meeting, Louisville advances to the championship game on Sunday.