Ole Miss baseball flexed its power after dominating Southern Miss 10-0 in the first game of the Hattiesburg Super Regional. The Rebels played lights out on offense, defense and pretty much every category.
“Ole Miss played a much better game than we did all the way around. We didn’t do enough in any phase of the game to compete with a good team like they are and especially with the role that they were on,” USM head coach Scott Berry said after the game.
The Rebels were hot coming into this game after sweeping through the Coral Gables Regional and that streak extends after this win.
Southern Miss started off rocky the from the top of the first inning but it really started in the top of the third. Starting pitcher Hurston Waldrep has rarely walked batters all year and he walked the first two batters he faced in the top of the third.
With this Ole Miss lineup, you can’t give them free baserunners, especially not gift them free baserunners into scoring position. Tim Elko, who has been lights out for the Rebels in the postseason, gave the Rebels a 1-0 lead.
Rodrigo Montenegro started as the catcher for Hurston Waldrep; Montenegro doesn’t usually catch for Waldrep but did this round. Montenegro had five passed balls in this game and that’s what got another run for Ole Miss in the third. Kemp Alderman flew out to center, deep enough to drive in Jacob Gonzalez to give the Rebels a 2-0 lead.
“I don’t know,” Berry said when asked about the passed balls. “I really don’t know, that’s part of it. All I can say is that Ole Miss did a good job capitalizing on those situations.”
The Southern Miss bats couldn’t get anything off Rebel’s starting pitcher Dylan DeLucia. DeLucia’s final line: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 9 K’s in 108 pitches.
“DeLucia was what we talked about yesterday. It’s so good for us for him to open up a weekend and give not just a good chance to win, but a great chance to win,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said.
The Golden Eagles only had four hits in the game and all of those came to DeLucia.
“He had a good outing today,” Southern Miss’s designated hitter Slade Wilks said after being asked about DeLucia’s outing. “We didn’t have the adjustment for him early and then let him settle in and we had our chances but he just kept rolling.”
In the top of the fourth inning, Garret Wood, who has batted a .143 this season, extended the Rebel’s lead to 3-0 after an RBI double.
Southern Miss’ greatest opportunity to come back from their off-beat plays and respond the the Rebels was in the fourth inning.
The bases were loaded and Reece Ewing missed a grand slam by a couple of inches. That knock would have given the Golden Eagles the lead, but it just went to the right of the foul pole. The play was heavily criticized; it appeared to be a toss-up but looked fair on the replay. However, if you follow the ball closely, it was just foul.
After the four runs were taken off the board, the dam broke loose for the Eagles. They gave up a seven-spot in the top of the sixth. Berry thought the play did not change the game’s momentum, but you could feel the shift in the stadium.
Waldrep had a pretty solid day but not his best outing. His final line: 5 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, and 12 strikeouts. Those 12 strikeouts were a Southern Miss NCAA tournament record for most in a game. However, the walks hurt him, and he was hit in the foot in the bottom of the second, which seemed to change his game.
After the game, he said it didn’t “really affect him” but that he “played through it”.
Last week, Southern Miss responded after losing in a Regional, but the bullpen for LSU practically gifted it to them. Ole Miss’s bullpen did not allow a hit after DeLucia exited the game.
The Golden Eagles did win three games in a row to advance to the supers and now they have to win two in a row to go to Omaha.
“That definitely will help us, because we all know we’ve been there before. We know what it is like, we can’t lose another game,” Wilks said.
The Golden Eagles will have to bring the heat with their offense if they want to keep their season alive, however, this game did not have the offense that is needed to win today’s elimination game.
Ole Miss will be a win away from Omaha and Southern Miss will be fighting for their season. The game starts at 3 pm today at Pete Taylor Park.