No. 17 Loyola takes first SSAC Championship loss

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. – The 17th-ranked Loyola Wolf Pack baseball team suffered their first loss of the Southern States Athletic Conference Championship on Sunday, losing to No. 12 William Carey, 16-13.

The No. 5-seed Wolf Pack (31-21) and top-seeded Crusaders (43-8) will meet again at 4 p.m. on Sunday for the right to play in the SSAC Championship title game. No. 6 Faulkner and No. 3 Mobile are set to play at 1 p.m. in the other semifinal matchup, and the tournament championship game will be played at 7 p.m.

Playing as the visiting team on their own home field, the Crusaders struck first in the top of the first inning. A one-out single and an error put a runner in scoring position, with Carey getting a two-out single two batters later to take the early 1-0 lead. WCU added six more in the top of the second to jump ahead 7-0.

The Pack was able to push across four runs in the bottom of the frame, as they worked four walks to help plate the runs. Kason Cullins scored the first run on a wild pitch, then a bases-loaded walk by Landon Trosclair scored Christopher Bohrer to make the score 7-2. An Aaron Davis sacrifice fly brought home Anthony Fernandez and a groundout by Brandon Mooney scored Jake Mills to make the deficit 7-4. William Carey, however, answered with a five-run third to push back in front, 12-4.

Loyola didn’t go down easy, though. The team scored at least one run in each of the final six innings to stay close, and it started with a three-run fourth inning. Mooney and Cole Romero led off the frame with a single and a double, respectively, and Ross Selvaggi walked to load the bases with no outs. A pinch-hit single by Tucker Ganley made the score 12-5, then Bohrer and Fernadez walked during consecutive at-bats to make it a 12-7 ballgame.

Selvaggi picked up an RBI in the fifth, singling to plate Mooney, 12-8, but WCU responded with a run in the top of the sixth, 13-8. Loyola, though, scored two in the bottom half to cut the deficit to three, 13-10, as Mooney brought home Tyler Durland and Fernandez. Carey put up another crooked number on the scoreboard, scoring three in the top of the seventh, 16-10, and Loyola closed out the contest by scoring one run in each of the final three frames to bring the score to its final, 16-13.

Pack Facts

Brandon Mooney is now up to 63 runs this season, breaking Loyola’s single-season runs record, after scoring three times on Saturday.

Mooney, who led the team with four hits, two doubles, and three RBI on his historic night, also broke the program’s single-season hits record, as he’s now up to 81 hits in 2023.

This is the third year in a row in which the Wolf Pack single-season runs record has been tied or broken. The record was previously held by Payton Alexander, who had 61 runs in the 2021 season, and Allen Dennis, who scored 61 last season.

Mooney is also now tied for fifth on Loyola’s single-season doubles leaderboard with 18 this season.

This was Loyola’s 19th game this season with double-digit runs on the scoreboard.

Anthony Fernandez reached base in all six of his plate appearances, hitting his sixth home run of the season in the ninth inning.

Eight different players accounted for the team’s 10 hits. It was the Wolf Pack’s 17th game this season with 10 or more hits. Nine different players scored runs on Saturday, including Tyler Durland, who scored his first run in a Wolf Pack uniform.

SSAC Baseball Championship Schedule
Wednesday, May 3
Game 1: #5 Loyola def. #4 Middle Georgia, 4-0
Game 2: #3 Mobile def. #6 Faulkner, 4-2
Game 3: #2 Talladega def. #7 Brewton-Parker, 6-4
Game 4: #8 Blue Mountain def. #1 William Carey, 8-7 (11)

Thursday, May 4
Game 5: #6 Faulkner def. #7 Brewton-Parker, 13-6, Brewton-Parker eliminated
Game 6: #1 William Carey def. #4 Middle Georgia, 14-1 (7), Middle Georgia eliminated
Game 7: #3 Mobile def. #2 Talladega, 7-5
Game 8: #5 Loyola def. #8 Blue Mountain, 14-2 (7)

Friday, May 5
Game 9: #6 Faulkner def. #2 Talladega, 4-3, Talladega eliminated
Game 10: #1 William Carey def. #8 Blue Mountain, 15-5 (8), Blue Mountain eliminated

Saturday, May 6
Game 11: #6 Faulkner def. #3 Mobile, 7-6
Game 12: #1 William Carey def. #5 Loyola, 16-13

Sunday, May 7
#6 Faulkner v. #3 Mobile, 1 p.m.
#5 Loyola v. #1 William Carey, 4 p.m.
Championship: 7 p.m.

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