BILOXI – With runners at first and second base with one out in the ninth inning, pitching coach Christian Ostrander looked to come on to the mound to relieve starting pitcher Nick Sandlin. Instead of being pulled, however, Sandlin stayed in the game and completed the 2-0 shutout win over the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
“[Ostrander] was just trying to slow things down [and] make sure I was alright,” Sandlin said. “Just to make sure I stay calm and focus on executing the pitching.”
The C-Spire Ferris trophy winner and Golden Spikes semifinalist then calmly grinded a strikeout and then a fly out to finish the game.
“He just shows up wins and competes and I thought he just got stronger as he went along,” head coach Scott Berry said. “Very early in the game, he didn’t have a very good rhythm but he pitched but as he got going his stuff just continually got stronger. Nick was doing what Nick does and that’s pitch.”
Southern Miss took the field a day late to start their C-USA tournament after lightning delays pushed the Golden Eagles’ first game to day two of the tournament. Southern Miss’ original 2 p.m. game time against the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Wednesday, May 23 was moved to a 3:18 p.m. start on Thursday, May 24.
In Sandlin’s final stat line, he allowed four hits, one walk, and struck out 12 in 118 pitches thrown.
“We missed so many opportunities, a lesser person on the mound, that would have bothered them,” Berry said. “[Sandlin] understands what his job is and that’s to keep the opposition from scoring and obviously, he did it for nine innings.”
While Sandlin’s pitching carried the team, runs were hard to come by for the offense. Southern Miss left eight runners on base, seven of which were in scoring position, and only put up five hits. Southern Miss left the bases loaded in the sixth inning and runners in scoring position in the second and seventh inning.
Southern Miss’ two runs came in the second and sixth innings. In the second inning, Matthew Guidry gave Southern Miss a 1-0 lead with a sac fly. Then in the sixth inning, Hunter Slater knocked in a run with bases loaded with an RBI single.
“We did have to scratch a couple of runs,” Berry said. “UAB, they battled us. They gave us fits, their pitching did an outstanding job of pitching out of innings and really minimize but the storyline for today is Nick Sandlin and his ability to dominate.”
Southern Miss is set to play the University of Texas at San Antonio at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow, May 25 but with more bad weather expected, the C-USA tournament schedule is still subject to change. Berry explained Southern Miss’ plan which is to just play baseball when the time comes.
“We’ve talked all year long, that were going to try and control what we can control,” Berry said. “Weather has been on top of that area. We have to say ‘it is what it is’ when they say ‘play ball,’ we have to go play it. We talked about that yesterday with all of the delays. We just have to be ready to play [baseball] it’ll be the same way when we show up tomorrow or the next time we play when they that it is our time.”