Southern Miss traveled to Trustmark Park in Pearl, Mississippi on Tuesday to face Ole Miss in a neutral site exhibition game. Despite a hot start at the plate and an early lead for the Golden Eagles, the Rebels scored runs down the stretch to run away with the lead, securing an 11-2 victory.
“Tuesdays haven’t been very good for us lately,” Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry said. “Against a very good club like Ole Miss, you can’t play like we did. We started out well, but lost the momentum by not being able to get runs in.”
The Golden Eagles did have early success at the plate, leading to an early advantage. Bryant Bowen hit an RBI single to bring home Gabe Montenegro in the top of the first. In the top of the second, Montenegro doubled down the right field line, allowing Danny Lynch to score and give Southern Miss a 2-1 lead.
At that point, the contest turned into a pitchers’ duel for several innings. The Golden Eagles threatened to extend their lead in the top of the fifth with bases loaded and one out on the board; but as Berry recalled, failure to capitalize on that opportunity proved fatal to the team’s hopes of holding on for the win.
“Ultimately we left 11 guys on base,” Berry said. “We strike out 10 times, we don’t make a couple of key plays there in the sixth inning and that was pretty much the ball game.”
The key sixth inning plays in reference were fielding plays that turned into decimating errors. The Rebels scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth, four of which were unearned. Ole Miss sophomore Tyler Keenan brought in another run with a double in the bottom of the seventh to extend Ole Miss’ advantage to 7-2.
However, the Golden Eagles mounted one last comeback attempt in the top of the eighth, putting two runners in scoring position with one out on the board. The second out came on a mishap, with Brant Blaylock being tagged out at third base after stumbling en route to home plate, then Ole Miss forced a pop out to right field to end the inning with no runs scored by the Golden Eagles.
Two more errors by Southern Miss in the bottom of the eighth resulted—one fielding and one throwing— and allowed for the Rebels to tack four more runs onto the board, bringing the score to its final tally of 11-2.
Junior left-hander Sean Tweedy took the loss for Southern Miss, his first of the season. Tweedy gave up three runs and three walks in seven at-bats despite also recording four strikeouts. Junior Austin Miller was awarded the win for Ole Miss, giving up zero runs on zero hits with three strikeouts through five batters faced.
Though disappointed, Berry said there is no time for his team to dwell on the mistakes they made Tuesday night.
“We’ve got to bounce back,” Berry said. “We’ve got to learn from the little things we did tonight and last Tuesday night that don’t allow us to win baseball games. Those things weren’t present last weekend when we played Marshall, and they don’t need to show up in Miami this weekend.”
That trip to Miami, Florida will be for another three-game Conference USA series that will pit the Golden Eagles against the FIU Panthers. Game 1 is set for 6 p.m. on April 12.