The third match between in-state rivals Ole Miss and Southern Miss ended with the Golden Eagles defeating the Rebels, 6-5. The two teams played their final game against one another Tuesday night at Trustmark Park, in Pearl, Mississippi.
USM had the Rebels’ number as of late and defeated them for the sixth straight time, which includes a stretch of nine wins in their last 10 contests. Ole Miss did not go quietly and provided USM with a heated contest with five lead changes.
The Golden Eagles struck first. In the top half of the first, an RBI double by Taylor Braley plated Connor Barron. Ole Miss answered in the bottom half of the inning and took a 2-1 lead behind sacrifices by Colby Bortles and J.B. Woodman.
The Rebel lead faded quickly as the very next inning, Nick Dawson sent a fastball right back up the middle and plated Sterling. Ole Miss’ pitching let them down as they walked home a run after USM loaded the bases. USM extended their lead in the third as Sterling drove in Tim Lynch, who doubled earlier in the inning.
Ole Miss cut the lead back to one in the bottom of the frame when Bortles notched an RBI single to make the score 4-3 with USM leading. They would then take the lead once again in the bottom of the fifth when Sikes Orvis blasted a two-run double and gave the Rebels their final lead of the game, 5-4.
Sterling started things off in the sixth with a single and then, with a stolen base, he put himself in scoring position. Dylan Burdeaux tied things after a single to right center allowed Sterling to score.
Ole Miss’ mistakes continued to haunt them and ultimately cost them the game. In the seventh, power hitter Matt Durst sent one in the gap for a leadoff double. After a ground out and strikeout, Durst moved to third.
With two outs and Sterling up to bat, the Rebels brought in relief pitcher, Drake Robinson. Robinson let a curveball slip away from him and it ended up in the dirt and it kept rolling to the backstop. Durst took advantage and crossed the plate and gave USM the lead for good.
Ryan Milton closed things out in the ninth and notched his seventh save of the season. Tim Lynch, Michael Sterling and Taylor Braley each had at least two hits, Lynch with three and Sterling and Braley with two apiece.
Braley led the team with two RBI’s with Budreaux, Sterling and Nick Dawson adding one apiece.
USM’s bullpen lived up to billing as one of the best in the NCAA. Currently ranked ninth in the nation, with a collective ERA of 2.48, they are also top in Conference USA.
Four USM relievers combined to allow just one earned run over three innings.
The Golden Eagles continue their road trip Friday, as they take on Conference USA foe Western Kentucky in a three-game series.