Eagles Victorious Against Pair of Alabama Teams
Junior Chase Scott makes contact with the ball while at bat against South Alabama during Wednesday’s game.- Aaron J. Stewart
The University of Southern Mississippi improved to 4-0 against SEC teams this season and also made history Wednesday night. The Eagles’ game against the South Alabama Jaguars was the longest game in Southern Miss baseball history and the third longest game in C-USA history.
Southern Miss defeated the Crimson Tide 6-2 in Hoover, Alabama, at Hoover Met Stadium Tuesday in a non-conference showdown, improving their overall record to 24-16-1.
The victory over the Crimson Tide could be just the push the Golden Eagles needed to finish strong in the rest of their conference games against Marshall, Charlotte and Middle Tennessee State.
Starters Cord Cockrell for USM and Nick Eicholtz for Alabama both held their own over the first three innings, leading to a scoreless game. However, USM’s offense got to Eicholtz and exploded for three runs on five hits in the fourth inning.
Chase Scott set the tone with a solo home run, scratching the first run on the board for either team, 1-0. Southern Miss hit three consecutive singles, and on the third one by Michael Sterling, Matt Durst scored from second base to give the Golden Eagles a 2-0 lead.
Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard paid a visit to Eicholtz on the mound and decided to continue with his starter to finish the inning.
Nick Dawson showed no mercy to Alabama’s struggling pitcher by drilling a double down the right field line to score Austin Roussel. Eicholtz was able to strike out Dylan Burdeaux to end the inning and strand two Golden Eagles in scoring position. But USM’s three-run lead did not last long.
The Crimson Tide answered back when J.C. Wilhite cranked a two-run homer deep over the left field fence, narrowing the USM lead to only 3-2.
In the top of the fifth, back-to-back singles from Braley and Scott ended Eicholtz’s night on the mound as Alabama brought in freshman Alex Watkins to slow down the fiery Southern Miss offense. The young pitcher was able to force a couple groundouts, but Matt Durst’s groundout scored Braley from third base and added more cushion to USM ‘s lead, 4-2.
With two outs and a runner at first base in the sixth, Watkins was relieved by designated hitter J.C. Wilhite on the mound. Wilhite’s first batter of the night was Burdeaux, who drilled a two-run home run to left field, lifting USM to a 6-2 lead over the Crimson Tide.
Cockrell was relieved in the seventh inning by Luke Lowery on the mound for the Golden Eagles. Cockrell threw six strong innings for USM, only giving up six hits and two runs with three strikeouts.
Rain forced the umpires to call for a rain delay at first, but ultimately the ballgame was officially called as Southern Miss defeated Alabama 6-2 in a rain-shortened game. Chase Scott led the USM offense and went 3-for-4 with a home run.
The Golden Eagles are now 4-0 this season against teams from the Southeastern Conference, which is regarded as one of the best conferences in the country.
USM hosted the South Alabama Jaguars (29-16) Wednesday evening, which turned into the longest game either team has played this season. The Eagles won 7-6 in 17 innings, improving their overall record to 25-16-1.
Barron wasted no time getting the USM offense going, smacking a solo home run over the right field fence on the first pitch he saw from Cameron Cochran. It was Barron’s seventh home run of the season.
In the top of the third inning, USM starter Cody Livingston was replaced on the mound by junior Connor O’Brien. Ryan Raspino led off with a hard ground ball that just missed the glove of third baseman Taylor Braley for a single. Cole Billingsley hit a chopper over USM’s first baseman Tim Lynch, to put both runners in scoring position with no outs.
Southern Miss coach Scott Berry visited O’Brien on the mound and chose to keep him in the game. Bud Callura battled at the plate before drilling the ball down the first base line, scoring two runs to take the lead.
After a Ben Gann RBI groundout, Adam Ballew knocked in another South Alabama run for a stand-up triple. Clay Targeant replaced O’Brien and worked out of the jam.
Braley’s solo home run in the fourth inning sparked a rally that tied the game at 4-4. With the bases loaded, Chuckie Robinson singled in two runs before Barron struck out to end the inning.
Both teams were scoreless in the fifth inning, and the Golden Eagles brought in senior Christian Talley to pitch in the top of the sixth. The game quickly turned into a pitching duel as both Talley and Tageant allowed no hits in the fifth and sixth innings.
Sterling led off the seventh inning reaching first safely on a bunt. South Alabama’s head coach Mark Calvi furiously argued the play, but it was not overturned. Dawson sacrifice bunted, moving Sterling into scoring position. With two outs, Burdeaux doubled to right field on the first pitch, scoring Sterling. Braley struck out to end the rally, but USM took the lead 5-4 with two more innings left to play.
A throwing error by Dawson plated two runs for the Jaguars in the eighth inning to give them the lead, 6-5. In the bottom of the eighth, Robinson drilled a ground ball through the left side of the infield, scoring Breck Kline and tying the game 6-6.
The game remained scoreless into extra innings before Roussel hit a walk-off single in the 17th inning, scoring Kline to win 7-6. The 17 innings played is the longest in Southern Miss history.
There was a scary moment in the bottom of the 14th inning. Home plate umpire Brian Clark had a foul ball off the bat of Kline hit him squarely in his mask. He was down for several minutes and the game was delayed for nearly 20 minutes.
The Golden Eagles will continue play when they host Marshall in a weekend series at Pete Taylor Park. The first game of the series is slated for 6 p.m. on Friday.