With two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning and runners at second and third base, Matthew Guidry stepped to the plate with the hope of completing Southern Miss’ come from behind win in the Golden Eagles’ first extra-inning season opener since 1998.
Guidry hit a game-winning walk-off RBI single down the right field line to give the Golden Eagles a 7-6 win against Purdue on Friday night.
“He started me away with two fastballs and that’s usually my approach and once he got me down 2-0,” Guidry said. “I knew if I could get the job done or if I just put a bit of contact on it that cause enough disruption to hopefully to get something happening and I just kind of tried to stick to that approach and just try and make something happen.”
“He’s our go-to guy,” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. “I’ve watched him over his career. He thrives in those situations. He wants to be the guy and that’s why he is one of our leaders. He’s one of our captains because he’s not afraid to step out front in that situation.”
After giving up a two-run lead and trailing 6-4 in the eighth inning, junior Brant Blaylock hit a momentum-shifting solo home run over the left field wall and cut the lead 6-5.
“That’s always one of the stamps on Southern Miss baseball they preach is to be ready for your time whenever it may come,” Guidry said. “Guys get opportunities and they capitalize on it. You just always have to be ready. That’s what’s just expected of us.”
In the ninth inning, Southern Miss caught a lucky break as a fly ball into centerfield that was hit by senior Hunter Slater, who had homered back in the sixth inning, was dropped by Purdue’s centerfielder. The dropped ball allowed Fred Franklin to score and send the game into extra innings.
“I thought he caught it,” Slater said. “I was kind of disappointed but no. A good head’s up play by [Fred Franklin] and then Guidry to advance to the base.”
“It was a great ball game,” Berry said. “I would be telling you this if we weren’t on the winning side honestly. I thought that both teams competed very very well and rightfully so. It’s the home opener, it’s the season opener for both teams. A lot of energy there but two really fundamental teams that played well.”
Guidry finished the game 1-for-3 with an RBI and Slater was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and scored.
On the mound for Southern Miss, Mason Strickland got the win after stepping into relief in the ninth inning and holding Purdue scoreless. Starter Walker Powell threw four innings and allowed two runs on five hits, walked two and struck out two.
Saturday’s game is still set for 4 p.m. but the weather could force a doubleheader.
“In the morning, I’m going to get with the weather service and look at Sunday,” Berry said. “Although it says 60 percent it’s [projected to be] very very light. No more than a tenth of an inch. I want to play three games, one a day and [Purdue’s head coach Mark Wasikowski] does too. Obviously, we don’t want to lose a game so we’ll just play it as normal right now. If the weatherman tells us something different tomorrow morning then we’ll make the adjustment.”