Matt Boswell gave South Alabama’s pitching staff exactly the lift they needed on Friday night.
Boswell pitched seven shutout innings and retired 10 as the Jaguars edged Appalachian State 9-0 at Stanky Field. The win ended a four-game Sun Belt Conference losing streak for Southern Alabama, which improved to 18-10 overall and tied its league record at 5-5.
“It was good,” Boswell said. “We just needed to get back on track and taste better. It’s been like an eternity since we got home. … I’m glad I was able to come and help the team win.
Boswell (5-2) dominated all night, allowing just two hits on a walk and a hit. He retired the Mountaineers (10-17, 3-7) in the order in the second, third, fifth and sixth innings, eliminating the team in the final period.
Boswell, normally starting on Saturday from the Jaguars, pitched for the first time of the season on Friday night. He replaced regular No. 1 starter Miles Smith in the rotation after Smith was temporarily suspended with an elbow inflammation.
“He was phenomenal,” South Alabama coach Mark Calvi said of Boswell. “Boz was really, really good. With Miles out…it was exactly what the doctor ordered, man. He hammered that fastball, he attacked the area. I can’t say enough good things.”
Southern Alabama put the game aside early offensively, scoring three goals in the first and two in the second against App State starter Jason Cornatzer (1-1). Will Turner drove home two points in the first, and then scored on Santi Montiel’s sacrifice ball to make it 3-0.
In the second, Erick Orbeta tied on walks with two outs, then Landon Jordan lined up a 2-2 pitch on the wall in right field for his second homer of the season. Jordan recently returned to the designated hitter roster after missing several weeks with a shoulder injury.
“(Cornatzer) has a good arm – he’s 90-92 (mph), he’s 6-foot-5. He beat us last year at home,” Calvi said. “…Our game plan was, we “We’re going to lay off the edges and we’re going to look for pitches in that 10 inches from the plate. Our guys did a really good job, especially the top end of the drive, getting through the bats.
The Jaguars added a run in the fourth on Diego Altamirano’s RBI single, which chased Cornatzer after 3 1/3 innings. The right-hander allowed six runs (all earned) on four hits and four walks.
Southern Alabama used a small ball to score two more runs in the sixth to take an 8-0 lead. Joseph Sullivan started with a field single, then Cameron Tissue was hit by a pitch.
Altamirano hit both runners, then Orbeta performed the Jaguars’ patented double suicide. The South Alabama leading man laid down a perfect bunt on the first base line, with Sullivan trotting home and Tissue beating the pitch from first to home plate.
“It’s the best feeling there,” Orbeta said of the double squeeze, the Jaguars’ third of the season. “It was my first time doing it and I loved it. I didn’t care if I went out. I watched the second runner go home and he was safe and I was pumped. It was awesome.”
Boswell went through the first six innings, allowing only a double and a single to the infield – both by Andrew Greckel. He hit Greckel to start the seventh, then Jacob Whitley reached on an error and Dalton Williams walked in to charge the bases.
Boswell escaped the jam, however, knocking out Luke Drumheller and Philip Cole before taking out Alex Aguila on a soft liner in second. The right-hander threw 112 pitches, 75 for strikes.
“I’m speechless on this round,” Boswell said. “A lot of times in the past I would have been a bit shaky, but I was able to regain control under me and keep moving, which was good.”
Southern Alabama added a ninth run in the seventh when Miles Simington reached on an error and scored on a double play grounder. Simington went 0 for 4, ending his season on-base streak at 25 matches.
Turner had two of South Alabama’s eight hits, while he, Orbeta and Jordan all had two. Orbeta, Sullivan and Joseph Sullivan all scored two points.
Eric Lin pitched the last two innings for South Alabama, allowing just a one-out single in the eighth. The freshman right-hander struck out three.
The series continues at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.