The UIC Flames gave Southern Miss fits early, as they did not earn a hit until the fourth inning. With a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth, Flames catcher Rob Calabrese hit a grand slam over the left field wall to give them the 5-run lead.
Southern Miss struck back in the home half of the inning, as pinch hitter Matthew Guidry hit a triple deep into left-center field, scoring 2 runs on the play. Second baseman Tracey Hadley brought Guidry home the very next at bat, cutting the deficit to 6-4 heading into the sixth inning.
Golden Eagles catcher Cole Donaldson made a crucial tag at home plate in the sixth inning to keep their momentum going, and pitcher Hayden Roberts got a strike-out to end the Flames at bat.
Scoring in the home half of the sixth began with a LeeMarcus Boyd sacrifice bunt that was mishandled, enabling Cole Donaldson to score all the way from second. Then another error on the very next at-bat brought Boyd home, tying the game at 6-6. Guidry came up big again with an RBI single, and Matt Walner scored on a wild pitch not to long after to cap off the big inning for the Golden Eagles.
Illinois-Chicago added one run in the seventh inning, cutting the score to 8-7. Closer Nick Sandlin was called on for Southern Miss and got the job done, only allowing one hit and one walk in the final two innings pitched.
With two outs in the ninth, the Flames made things interesting with the bases loaded before the Golden Eagles finally got the force out at second to end the game, leaving UIC with three men on base.
Southern Miss will take on the winner of the Mississippi State and South Alabama game in the winner’s bracket at 6 p.m. tomorrow night at Pete Taylor Park. UIC will take on the loser at 1 p.m. tomorrow.
Attendance for the game totaled 4,239 and this marks the 230th win for Head Coach Scott Berry’s club when they led after six innings.