Southern Miss put up a memorable fight through five games in the Oxford Regional, but Ole Miss ended its season with a 12-9 victory in a winner-take-all game Monday.
The Golden Eagles forced a second match against the Rebels after earning a 10-7 victory Saturday but fell short of advancing to what would have been the program’s third Super Regional appearance in school history.
“I can’t be more proud of our young men and our team and how we came out and played it to the end,” Head Coach Scott Berry said after the team’s loss.
Hunter Stanley and Walker Powell both earned playing time in what would be the seniors’ last games as Golden Eagles. Through their careers at Southern Miss, the pair earned a combined 43 wins, 495 innings played and 460 strikeouts.
“We’re going to miss Walker and Hunter,” Berry said. “They soaked up a lot of innings and a lot of big games for us. That’s hard to replace, but everybody has to do it year in and year out.”
Coming into the regional, Southern Miss rode a two-game losing streak from its collapse against Louisiana Tech in the Conference USA Tournament.
The Golden Eagles extended its losing streak with a 5-2 loss against Florida State to open the Oxford Regional, which dropped the squad to the loser’s bracket of the tournament.
But dramatically, Southern Miss snapped back to life and powered to the regional’s finals with three straight victories.
On the brink of elimination, the Golden Eagles staged a historic 21-0 victory against Southeast Missouri State thanks to a season-high of 24 hits and six innings of shutout pitching from senior pitcher Powell.
Powell earned his 30th career victory in the game, increasing his totals as the second-winningest pitcher in Southern Miss history.
“We just came out of the day knowing we had a chip on our shoulder and we had to go out and win. When we all came together last night and got together as a team, we knew that it could be our last time and we just came out and played hard,” Sargent said after the victory against SEMO.
The Golden Eagles took revenge against the Seminoles Sunday with a 7-4 victory to advance to the regional championship.
Ryan Och replaced Drew Boyd after two innings and threw four shutout innings. During that span, Och struck out 11 batters and allowed the Golden Eagles to take the lead.
Southern Miss started the first game against Ole Miss with a four-run deficit in the first but recorded seven runs in the bottom of the frame to take an early advantage that the team never gave up.
Blake Johnson, Christopher Sargent, Will McGillis, Danny Lynch, Reed Trimble and Gabe Montenegro all made the Oxford All-Regional team for their performances in the regional.
Despite struggles to begin the season, Southern Miss (40-21) extended its streak of 40-win seasons to five consecutive years.
Southern Miss will lose the production from its familiar seniors and possibly more draft-eligible players, but players believe that the squad can continue its successes.
“We were close just like this two years ago. I wasn’t on that team, but I watched it, and we were close,” Trimble said. “I think we’re a team that can get to Omaha in the future and win it, not just get there…I think we’re going to have a really good ball club in the future, and I’m excited for it.