Baseball in Hattiesburg will continue as Southern Miss beats LSU 8-7 to win the Hattiesburg Regional and advance to their second-ever Super Regional.
Southern Miss will now be hosting a Super Regional because No. 6 seed Miami lost in their respective regional. The Golden Eagles will face none other than in-state foe Ole Miss for a right to go to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
“I’m so blessed to be here today with these young men and the rest of their teammates. I’ve been a part of a lot special teams before, but as a head coach I think this team certainly tops it—they have stayed the course,” Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry said. “You don’t win 47 games by riding a roller coaster. You win 47 by understanding that there’s ups and downs and that you have to go out and play every game, one game at a time, and this tournament defined that.”
Southern Miss won three games in 27 hours to claim the Regional. It seemed unlikely on Sunday morning after their loss to LSU on Saturday night. On Saturday, LSU scored four runs in the ninth inning and one in the tenth to capture the remarkable comeback to beat Southern Miss.
“We got the opening day win against a tough Army team and went against LSU in the winner’s bracket and got gut punched. We let one get away from us; before that we were 37-0 when leading after eight innings this year. It’s something that we hadn’t had happen at all during the year,” Berry said.
The pitching woes for LSU were the difference in the game. The bats for the Golden Eagles had been shaky all season, but for the contests against LSU, they came alive. The lack of pitching for LSU was the difference in all three games.
“We got to pitch better, end of story. I mean that’s the story, that’s the story of this tournament,” LSU head coach Jay Johnson said after the loss.
On the other side, the Southern Miss bullpen, which is the strength of the Golden Eagles, came through at the end of the day for the Eagles. Between Justin Storm last night and the mix of Chandler Best and Landon Harper this afternoon, shut down LSU just enough to earn the victory.
“We found the perfect storm yesterday in Justin Storm and today our guys rode that storm into this contest knowing that everything mattered. They just stepped up. Our staff stepped up, our coaches—I can’t say enough about Coach Ostrander, Coach Creel, Coach Brewer and Keller and BJ and all those guys that work with these young men day in and day out. There’s a great chemistry, not only between our players, but between our staff and players too,” Berry said.
The game started on a high note when right fielder Carson Paetow led off with a home run on the third pitch of the contest to give Southern Miss a 1-0 lead.
Tanner Hall started the game on the mound for Southern Miss, but the Tigers got to him early, driving three runs across in the B1 to take a 3-1 lead. They would add another run thanks to a Cade Doughty home run to left field that pushed the score to 4-1 in favor of LSU.
Southern Miss would draw closer in the fourth, thanks to a couple of walks, a score on a passed ball and a score on a fielder’s choice by Gabe Montenegro to make the score 4-3.
Southern Miss was not done yet. In the top of the seventh, Christopher Sargent would bring home Paetow on a sac-fly RBI to tie the game. Slade Wilks would then come up with an RBI-single and Montenegro would come up with a 2RBI-single to extend the lead for Southern Miss 7-4 right after.
As all Southern Miss fans knew, LSU wasn’t done yet and they didn’t take long to answer. In the bottom of the seventh, they drove across two runs from a pair of RBI singles by Jordan Thompson and Tre’ Morgan to make the score 7-6.
LSU would tie it up at seven in the bottom of the eighth inning with a Gavin Dugas solo home run.
The Golden Eagles would take the lead for good in the top of the ninth after Danny Lynch hit him with a sac-fly.
Tyler Stuart would down LSU to win the game and give Southern Miss its berth in the NCAA Super Regionals.
“It felt awesome. I don’t have any words to describe it. It obviously left a sour taste in our mouth last year. That’s the thing you have to realize. It didn’t start last year or two years ago. It started 15 years ago with wanting this dream to happen. It just feels amazing,” Lynch said.
Last season, Southern Miss lost the Regional Final to Ole Miss in Oxford to end their season. This year they get a chance to avenge that loss at home for a right to go to Omaha.
Four Southern Miss players ended up on the Hattiesburg Regional All-tournament team; Tanner Hall, pitcher Hurston Waldrep, pitcher Christopher Sargent, 1B and Will McGillis, 3B.
The most outstanding player of the Hattiesburg Regional was Sargent. Sargent had been struggling from the plate a bit to end the season, but in this Regional, he has been on fire. He says that the injury has actually helped him hit.
“I’m not able to get my full swing off, but I’ve got a problem getting too tall in the zone, but with my back hurt I have to stay short. Turns out staying short is the thing to do,” Sargent said.
Southern Miss will host Ole Miss in the Super Regional to set up what will be one of the most highly anticipated baseball series ever in the state of Mississippi. Before they get to work, Southern Miss will take some time to celebrate this accomplishment and look ahead to the next task.
“It’s special. It’s something we’ve never been able to do and now we can check that box. We’ve only been a part of one super regional in 2009 in Florida. Certainly, that was an exciting time. I’m the only one on our staff that was a part of that and I know that feeling,” Berry said. “That’s what I told the team, that you understand the feeling of this regional, but the feeling of winning a super-regional to go to Omaha is even more special. You have to take the process one at a time and certainly, we were able to achieve this goal. That was one of our goals, to get into a regional and win a regional so that we can move on.”
The Super Regionals begin on Friday, June 10 and conclude on Monday, June 13. There have not been rimes and TV schedules announced for the Southern Miss vs. Ole Miss Super Regional.