Southern Miss lost its third game of the season against Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday night, falling 4-2 in late-game fashion.
“We just never did [enough] offensively,” said coach Scott Berry. “We didn’t get that big hit. I think more importantly are the walks and the errors especially in the seventh inning.”
Southeastern Louisiana lost at home on Tuesday in dramatic fashion, squandering a two-run lead to the Golden Eagles, as USM ran off four runs to win in Hammond, Louisiana. In this contest, USM was not able to pull out the same magic on this night.
“Honestly, what they kind of did last night, we did tonight,” Berry said. “This was an opportunity that we missed on, and we didn’t do enough to win this ball game.”
This game was a missed opportunity for the Golden Eagles, but everyone should calm down.
USM went on a tear recently, winning seven straight games to start the season. USM dropped two straight contests against South Alabama, but that was to be expected. Georgia Tech is the only undefeated team in the country, so losses should not be seen as a rarity.
As a reminder, the Golden Eagles have defeated Michigan State, Southeastern and Auburn, all of whom have top 50 Rating Percentage Index rankings, according to warrrennolan.com.
Those wins carry more weight than the three early losses that they have faced, so fans should not put too much stock into a stumble on the road to the NCAA Regionals.
“We have the ability (to win close games),” Berry said. “We were hoping for it to have it happen for us again today.”
Those close games have come as early as Feb. 21 in the 6-4 finale against Eastern Illinois and last night culminated in a season that will most likely be filled with close calls and late-inning heroics.
On this night against Southeastern Louisiana, the Golden Eagles succumbed to errors in both the seventh and eighth innings, leading to a total of three runs scored for the Lions. The Golden Eagles not only dug themselves in that hole, but there was no formula for getting themselves out of it.
The Golden Eagles have mustered three or fewer points in five of their last seven games. The pitching against the Lions, led by freshman Stevie Powers, was unable to keep the Lions off the base. The hitting, a mere seven hits out of 33 at-bats, was not going to magically appear for an inning just as it did on Tuesday.
They will have to rely a little more on skill, rather than a little luck or a
sprinkle of magic.
“We’ve been playing good baseball, I’m not going to take anything away from what we’ve been doing,” Berry said. “We’ve had a pretty good run here.”
This is not to say that Berry’s squad cannot get their act together or become more consistent at the plate, and command more respect on the mound. But, it starts with facing the facts.
According the NCAA, the Golden Eagles are ranked 47th nationally with a .308 batting average. The pitching staff is ranked 59th with a 3.18 earned run average. Those numbers will net 11 wins in the early going, but as the season wanes, average numbers may yield an average record.
For this game, the Golden Eagles did not play to their snuff, but fans should realize the team is not as senior-laden as in 2015. Albeit talented, the bullpen and rotation is filled with inexperience. The team will need time to adjust not only their pitching arms but their bats as well.
“There’s times where a little hit breaks it open, and we just didn’t get it tonight, for the most part,” Berry said.
USM was not able to get the few hits needed to pull out this contest, but fans should wait on pessimistic thinking about not only this young team, but the young season.