By: Dima Mixon
Southern Miss beat the UAB Blazers 4-3 Wednesday night despite a five-and-a-half-hour-long weather delay. The game’s starting time of 9:20 p.m. set the precedent for what would be a late night for the Golden Eagles.
“We’re a bunch of good guys that go out and play and believe in one another and never feel like they’re out of the game,” Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry said. “If it’s not the offense picking us up, it is the pitching and we saw that tonight.”
Back in April, Southern Miss dropped its first conference series to UAB. Starting pitcher Tanner Hall had a poor outing in that contest thus using that as fuel in this game.
“For sure it was in there. That’s why we came out and we were all ready. We were just eager to beat them and send them home,” Hall said.
The game was chippy between the two ball clubs. The barking started all the way back in the first inning, after a Dustin Dickerson strikeout. Catcher Henry Hunter for the Blazers had some choice words for Dickerson and Dickerson fired back.
“It definitely fired us up. We definitely had to have a kind of controlled energy the whole game because we didn’t want to get too involved in the trash talk because that kind of can take us away from the true goal: which is to win,” outfielder Carson Paetow said.
The umpire warned both teams in the bottom of the third inning which calmed things slightly.
“I think the warning from the umpire for both sides. It was getting to a point where each coach needs to take responsibility for their team and make them understand we need to talk to our own people. Don’t talk to them and vice versa,” Berry said. “I think the umpires did a great job.”
Paetow scored on a balk by a UAB pitcher, which caused fierce debate on the field. This debate would eventually lead to the ejection of Casey Dunn, the head coach for UAB.
UAB would take the first lead of the game in the top of the second inning after an error on third baseman Danny Lynch. Southern Miss would score and tie the game right back in the bottom of the second, thanks to a throwing error by UAB.
UAB would take the lead back, thanks to a Christian Hall home run. Southern Miss would score two in the bottom of the fourth. Blake Johnson cashed in a sac-fly RBI. After came Paetow’s balk to give the Golden Eagles a 3-2 lead.
“It was a balk. Coach Berry before that told me to try and get his attention. So, I tried my best and I just sprinted that line over and he looked at me and kind of freaked out,” Paetow said.
UAB would tie the game on a solo home run by Josh Sears, a no-doubter to left field. However, Southern Miss would respond for the final time. Slade Wilks blasted a 412-foot home run over the right-field wall.
“I hit it well. I really don’t know how far it went, I just kind of put my head down and ran. I knew it was gone off the bat though,” Wilks said.
That blast would lift Southern Miss to a 4-3 margin, and that would be the final margin.
Relief pitching came in clutch tonight for the Eagles as well. Dalton Rodgers and Landon Harper came in to relieve Hall.
“Tanner has a runner at second base with one out, hands it off to Dalton. Dalton gets two big outs to get out of it. The next inning, they get a guy at second base with one out and we hand it to Landon Harper. He gets two big outs and finishes off the ninth,” Berry said. “So, I’m just real proud of our pitching staff and how they went through a really good lineup with UAB.”
Southern Miss will face the winner of Florida Atlantic and UTSA in the next round. Their record stands at 42-14 (24-7).