The Golden Eagles were unable to carry their momentum from last week that resulted in four wins and just one loss as they fell to the Florida Gators 4-2 in Pensacola, Fla.
The game was played at a neutral site, Bayfront Stadium, which is used by the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, a Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. However, Florida was considered the home team for the contest.
Southern Miss struck first in the top of the fourth inning when Mason Robbins doubled down the line to score Michael Sterling who reached on an error by right fielder Braden Mattson. Two batters later, Tim Lynch singled home Robbins to take a 2-0 lead.
USM starting pitcher Christian Talley dominated for the first five innings, but ran into trouble in the bottom of the sixth. Florida second basemen Casey Turgeon led off the inning with a double before being brought home on a single my Mattson two batters later.
Talley pitched 5 1/3 innings, giving up two runs on five hits while striking out five before being replaced by reliever Jay Myrick who struggled to find his command early on. He walked the first batter he faced before allowing an RBI single to tie the game. Myrick settled in after that and got the next two hitters out to end the inning.
Nick Johnson replaced Myrick to start the seventh and did not fare much better. He allowed two base runners while only recording one out on a sacrifice bunt before being replaced by Luke Lowery. Lowery only faced one batter after throwing a wild pitch to advance the runners to second and third then walked the batter to load the bases.
Ryan Milton replaced him and gave up an RBI single to Mattson to give Florida a 3-2 lead. A fielding error by Sterling allowed another run to score before Milton got Florida third basemen Josh Tobias to ground into a double play to end the inning.
USM’s offense laid dormant the rest of the game as they only had two base runners over the last two innings, both by walks. For the game, the USM offense only mustered six hits and only had one inning with two hits.
The bullpen has been a major issue for USM so far this season. They have gotten quality starts almost every game, but the bullpen has surrendered far too many untimely runs. Also, the defense for USM has been shaky to say the least.
The USM defense has committed 24 errors in their 13 games compared to just nine by their opponents. They have also had 20 wild pitches to just 10 by their opponents. If USM is to reach their goal this season, the NCAA Regionals, they will have to start playing better defense and have better outings from their bullpen.