The Golden Eagles (19-7) traveled to Pearl, Miss. to face Mississippi State (18-7-1) at Trustmark Park in their lone meeting of the season. Coming into the game, USM had won eight straight games against SEC competition, but that streak was snapped as USM lost, 13-5.
The Golden Eagles were behind early. They were never able to recover the lead they gave up in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Bulldogs brought out the bulk of the Golden Eagle bullpen as USM used nine pitchers to try to capture the win against the No. 12 team in the nation.
Mississippi State got on the board first with a Jacob Robson triple, followed by a ground out by Jake Magnum to bring in Robson for the score, 1-0.
Mason Walley got his first career start for Southern Miss in a long line of pitchers on the night, pitching a short outing. Walley gave up three hits and one run in two short two innings of work. Walley was replaced by senior Cody Livingston, who let the wheels fall off for Southern Miss in the bottom of the fourth.
USM held a 2-1 lead going into the fourth inning, and the Golden Eagles were thinking upset as they were led by a Tracy Hadley home run to left field and an RBI from Taylor Braley on a Chase Scott single. The Bulldogs were not fazed by that run by USM. They came back in the bottom of the fourth looking to put away the Golden Eagles.
The Bulldogs grounded out to start the inning, but they were not going to let Livingston get out the inning unscathed. Mississippi State exploded for four runs on only four hits in the bottom of the fourth. Livingston was replaced by Austin Millet before any more runs could be scored for MSU with two outs in the inning.
“Our two-out hitting tonight was great,” said MSU coach John Cohen to the Clarion-Ledger. “We did a good job of putting pressure on them with two outs.”
Southern Miss would be outscored by MSU 3-0 in the sixth and seventh innings to extend its lead 8-2 on the Golden Eagles.
In the top of the seventh, Southern Miss was back on its heels and came out to score three runs on three hits to make the score a manageable 8-5 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. But USM again squandered away the momentum when the Bulldogs came to bat.
Mississippi State had the last runs through the rest of the game, scoring five runs on six hits in the seventh and eighth innings. Southern Miss did not score again in the contest. It dropped its first SEC contest in nine tries.
“We never won an inning tonight,” said coach Berry to the Clarion-Ledger after the contest. “We didn’t compete well enough at the plate. Certainly we didn’t compete coming out of the bullpen at all. We never had a chance to keep the momentum.”
The explosive Golden Eagle offense that had scored 9.2 runs per game in Conference USA competition did not show up against the Bulldogs, only managing five hits in 37 at-bats.
The pitching staff was clearly outmatched when coach Scott Berry used nearly the entirety of his bullpen with some of his pitchers throwing less than a full inning.
The Golden Eagles will travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to play the 49ers in C-USA action starting this Friday.