Golden Eagles shed frustration with 7-6 walk-off winner over Louisiana-Lafayette

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Senior catcher Cole Donaldson celebrates his walkoff homerun to secure a midweek win for the Golden Eagles. Photo by: Makayla Puckett

Facing an 0-2 count with two outs in the ninth inning, Cole Donaldson swung away at a fastball and knocked in the game-winning run in the 7-6 win over Louisiana-Lafayette on Tuesday night.

“It was three fastballs actually,” Donaldson said. “I was trying to give Fred a chance to get to second to make his job a little easier. He threw me one fastball [and then] he threw me one right down the middle and I just missed it. I just got into that two-strike approach just trying to put a barrel on it. He threw me another fastball and I was able to do that. It’s the kind of situation that you always dream about having.”

Prior to the four-run rally in the ninth inning, the game appeared to be another frustrating midweek contest for the Golden Eagles, who are now 4-5 in midweek games on the season.

Southern Miss trailed 3-1 heading into the third inning, with a pair of Golden Eagles errors being made that helped the Ragin Cajuns.

However, in the bottom of the third inning, Bryant Bowen managed to perfectly time his 22nd consecutive hit, which is now the longest active streak in the nation, with a two-run home run to tie the game at 3-3.

“I actually embarrassed myself on the pitch before with a breaking ball in the dirt and swung,” Bowen said. “I guess it baited him to throwing another one and I knew I got it.”

Louisiana-Lafayette retook the lead by scoring a run in the sixth inning and two more in the seventh inning.

The difference, according to Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry, was reliever Hunter Stanley, who kept the Ragin Cajuns off the board for the next two innings.

“I think the difference was Hunter Stanley coming and doing what he did and just kind of hold Lafayette where they were,” Berry said. “Lafayette had struck out ten times on the night and five of those came in the last three innings with Hunter Stanley. They had run up Cody Carroll’s pitch count up. There just really wasn’t anything to put them away with because the kept extending those at-bats and fouling pitches off. I think with hunter and his ability to get those three-innings covered for us and hold them at six to three and give us a chance there that was probably the key.”

In three innings pitched, Stanley allowed two runs off four hits and struck out five while walking one batter.

Will McGillis led off the ninth inning for Southern Miss by getting hit by a pitch, something that Bowen said was crucial in the team being able to find momentum.

“I think being tired of [losing midweeks was the difference],” Bowen said. “I looked at Will McGillis and I said ‘this is getting really frustrating and he said you know I agree.’ We came together as a team a few days ago before the Charlotte series and said we’re done with this let’s just find positives in everything. We were able to do that in the ninth inning with the hit by pitch by Will McGillis and just roll from there.”

From there, Matthew Guidry and Bowen each hit a pair of RBI singles and Matt Wallner tied the game with a sacrifice fly to set up Donaldson’s game-winning hit.

“We needed a win just like this,” Bowen said. “Dig a little deeper [and] get off that high energy in the game and find a way to do it. Earlier this year, especially midweeks, we have not played great baseball. I wouldn’t even say we played great tonight but we found a little Pete Taylor magic and it was able to do the job for us.”

Bowen finished the game 3-for-5 with three RBI and Donaldson finished the game 2-for-4 with one RBI.

Southern Miss will return to the road tomorrow and travel to play the University of New Orleans. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.