Southern Miss failed to string together timely hits in their Tallahassee Regional contest against Florida State on Saturday night, losing 7-2.
Against a quality Florida State team, the Golden Eagle offense sputtered after their two-run inning in the first. Southern Miss jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on just 10 pitches from starting Seminole pitcher Tyler Holton.
“Certainly we had an opportunity there to get more than that, but we didn’t,” said USM coach Scott Berry. “To go up two nothing there against them, we felt like certainly we had the momentum.”
The Golden Eagles left one of their four runners on base on the night in that inning alone and relinquished the opportunity to take a commanding lead on FSU. The Seminoles would evaporate Southern Miss’ lead on a Steven Wells Jr. home run off of starting Golden Eagle pitcher Cord Cockrell in the second inning.
Momentum would be the key in the game as Southern Miss failed to score again in their frame in the third. Florida State scored on a bases-loaded walk by way of Jake Winston to put themselves up 4-2, putting even more pressure on the Golden Eagles’ offense to produce.
Tyler Holton got the start for Florida State and turned in an effective performance besides the first inning. Holton pitched 5.2 innings and gave up only two hits and three runs — all in the first inning.
“He was keeping us off-balance and we hit into some tough luck,” said Golden Eagle outfielder Hunter Slater. “We really couldn’t get that spark.”
The Golden Eagles would be blanked on the scoreboard by Holton and his relief pitcher Jim Voyles for the rest of the night. The Seminoles, however, would go on to score their next run in the fifth to add another point to their lead at 5-2.
“Those are plays that teams have to make to advance in the postseason,” said Seminole coach Mike Martin. “You can’t give a club a moment of, ‘Oh yeah, here we go!’ That’s the mentality that we’ve got to continue to play with.”
The Seminoles would pour it on again against the Golden Eagles on a Jackson Lueck home run to left center field. Florida State then held a 7-2 lead which would hold the rest of the contest.
Wells Jr. and Matt Henderson, the eighth and ninth batters in the lineup, combined for five RBIs on two hits in the contest. According to Winston, who pitched only 1.1 innings of relief, Southern Miss expected the entire lineup to be able to produce runs on the scoreboard.
“Going into the game, we knew they could hit top to bottom [in the lineup]; Not really surprised,” said Jake Winston. “They found the way to get the job done.”
With Southern Miss failing to capture the contest against Florida State, they will have to play Alabama State to stay alive in the Tallahassee Regional. With both teams having one loss on their resumes, the loser will go home.
“It’s a game-by-game approach,” Berry said. “You got to really simplify it and stay focused and commit to the game that you’re playing.”
After a possible win against Alabama State, the Golden Eagles will again have to face the Seminoles and defeat them twice to advance to a Super Regional.
“I think we’re battle-tested up to this point,” Berry said. “We’re way deep in the season so we’re conditioned for this situation. It is what it is. It’s backs against the wall and you’re fighting for your life now.”
Southern Miss will play Alabama State on Sunday at Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium. First pitch is set for 11 a.m. CST.