A historic season with so many highs and lows ends on a low note as Southern Miss is swept in their own super regional by Ole Miss.
“The book really started getting really hot in February. That’s what I told them today, before the game. We are the author of the book. We decide when it ends, and unfortunately today it ended,” Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry said after the game.
Southern Miss finishes the season with so many accolades, but the season still ends in a stinger as they were closer to an appearance in Omaha than they had been in 12 years. Southern Miss finishes the season 47-19 along with winning the C-USA regular-season title as well as winning their first NCAA Regional in 12 years over a storied program in LSU.
They went on a 15-game win streak which was the longest in school history and hosted the C-USA Championship, NCAA Regional, and Super-Regional, and were ranked as high as No. 4 in the country.
Hitting for Southern Miss was a struggle all season and started becoming more of a struggle after Reece Ewing and Slade Wilks got injured at the end of April. After that, the team could never find their groove again on the offense side of the ball outside of the MTSU series.
In the super regional, Southern Miss just had seven hits and zero runs. It was the first time since 2011 that an opponent shut out Southern Miss in back-to-back games. The pitching for Ole Miss was incredible. Dylan DeLucia on Saturday and then a legendary performance by freshman Hunter Elliot on Sunday.
Elliot went 7.1 IP, 3H, 0 R, 0 BB, and 97 TP in today’s game. Just an incredible pitching performance and coming-out party for him on this stage. It was similar to Tanner Hall’s coming-out party last season at Ole Miss.
“A true freshman, way ahead of his time. He had mound presence of a senior. He was totally in control, I’m really, really impressed,” Berry said. “We got a hit there in the second, a swinging bunt, then he retires sixteen straight before we get the next hit there in the eighth.”
This was one of the best performances you can ask for out of a true freshman.
“You know he didn’t get the opportunity to start very much, but once we moved him to the rotation, he’s been terrific,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said after the game.
Starting pitcher for Southern Miss Tanner Hall also had a nice day on the mound. His final line: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 1 BB in 89 TP. The game was the classic pitcher’s duel to begin. Both pitchers had not allowed a run going into the fifth inning.
With how hot the Ole Miss lineup has been as of recently, their offense wasn’t going to be contained for too long. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Calvin Harris led off with a single to right field. Justin Bench followed with a double to left field, putting runners at second and third with one out.
Jacob Gonzalez singled to get the scoring going as he plated Harris with his single and then a passed ball would score Bench to give the Rebels a 2-0 lead. Following that, Kevin Graham got a single of his own which scored Gonzalez to make the score 3-0.
In the bottom of the sixth, Justin Bench came through with an RBI single to extend the Rebel’s lead to 4-0.
Southern Miss had only one real opportunity to respond and that was in the top of the eighth. Wilks led off with a single, then Will McGillis reached on a fielder’s choice. Gabe Montenegro singled to get McGillis second and with an Ewing walk, they loaded the bases.
However, it all ended with a Carson Paetow flyout.
TJ McCants would add to the Rebel’s lead in the bottom of the eighth with a solo home run. Ole Miss came up with another inning where they sat down USM to win the game.
Ole Miss was hot at the right time and USM caught a tough break to catch them in that streak.
“Within the book, there’s a lot of great stories. Regular season conference champs in the last season in Conference USA, 47 wins, hosted a regional for the third time in the program’s history, second in five years. Winning that regional, after that loss to LSU to open Saturday night and understanding the challenge at hand, and tying to take it one game at a time and win three to get to where we are today. Our guys answered that bell, and did something that our program has never done and that’s to host a Super Regional,” Berry said. “Our program continues to grow, we set all kinds of records this year and I can assure you we will break those records next year.”
For senior Gabe Montenegro, this one will sting, but he will end his career at Southern Miss with one of the best carers he could have imagined.
“Throughout my career I’ve seen players just come and go. I can tell all the hard work that the coaches have put in, the players have put in and just the progress we all made throughout the years. I’m just really honored that I was able to come to this program and I’m just thankful to Coach Berry and all the coaches to give me the chance. And even though this is the end, I know this program, I know these players and they’re going to keep working and they’re going to come stronger next year.”
Fans will remember this season for a long time as it was a record breaking, historical one but in the end, the Golden Eagles failed to qualify for a trip to Omaha.