CLEARWATER, Fla-Colton Neel threw three scoreless innings of relief and provided a walk-off single in the 11th inning to give Memphis a wild 15-14 win over Cincinnati to stay alive in the American Athletic Conference Tournament. The Tigers (30-28) will now have Thursday off and play the loser of No. 2 seed Houston and No. 3 seed UConn Friday at 10 a.m. (CT) at Spectrum Field.
Memphis and Cincinnati combined for 29 runs on 32 hits and neither team committed an error in the game.
The Tigers scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game 14-14 and send it into extra-innings where they won it on Neel’s RBI single up the middle.
Neel, a sophomore two-way player, started the game in left field and went 3-for-6 at the plate before coming in to pitch in the top of the eighth. He tossed three straight perfect innings with two strikeouts before driving in the game-winning run.
Seniors Chris Carrier, Brandon Grudzielanek, Zach Schritenthal and Trent Turner combined for 11 hits, 12 RBI and nine runs scored. Carrier, who is riding a 20-game hitting streak, was 4-for-6 with four RBI on two doubles and a home run. Turner was 3-for-5 with three RBI and Schritenthal was 3-for-6 with three RBI.
Memphis had an early 6-1 lead and then an 8-3 lead before Cincinnati rallied with a pair of five-run innings to go up 14-8.
Cincinnati grabbed the lead with a two-out run in the top of the first inning. Tigers starting pitcher Colton Hathcock walked a batter with two outs, who then swiped second base and scored on an RBI single.
Memphis came right back to score four runs in the bottom of the first to give Hathcock a big lead to work with. Carrier blasted his 16th home run of the season to make it 2-1 after Grudzielanek was hit by a pitch.
Schritenthal extended the lead with an RBI single to right field and then a wild pitch made the score 4-1 through one inning.
Carrier was back at it in the second inning, smacking an RBI double to again drive in Grudzielanek. Turner followed it up with an RBI single to drive in Carrier to make the Tigers’ lead 6-1.
Cincinnati trimmed the Memphis lead to 6-3 with two runs in the top of the fourth.
Memphis came right back to score two more though on a two-run homer by Turner to extend the lead to 8-3 in the bottom of the fourth.
The Bearcats came all the way back to score five runs in the top of the fifth to tie the game 8-8 and then scored one more in the sixth to take a 9-8 lead. They extended that lead out to 14-8 with five more runs in the seventh.