(Game 3): (Jackson Howell)
Southern Miss defeated Old Dominion 5-4 thanks to some “Pete Taylor Magic” as Danny Lynch delivered a walk-off single in the bottom of the tenth inning to avoid a series sweep.
“[This win] is huge…They took two from us and home, and you really can’t get swept especially in league play,” Lynch said. “Today was about coming out and playing Golden Eagle baseball… Coach [Ostrander] challenged us before the game to compete a little harder, especially with two strikes.”
“Today was about the mental challenge, and mentally being able to compete and overcome two tough losses,” Head Coach Scott Berry said. “That was our message to the team.”
Hurston Waldrep started the game on the mound for Southern Miss, and he found himself in trouble early when the first three batters reached base. Old Dominion hit a sac-fly which scored one, but Waldrep was able to narrowly avoid disaster.
Waldrep was not so lucky in the fourth inning as he allowed a two-run homer from Brock Gagliardi that gave ODU a three-run lead.
Waldrep finished the day with three earned runs on five hits over six innings. He walked three batters but managed to strike out ten.
“[Waldrep] was really struggling with fastball command. He was throwing 96-97 [mph], but [he’s] got to command it,” Berry said. “What bailed him out was his slider, and he used the fastball as a secondary pitch which allowed him to get a lot of strikeouts.”
Southern Miss fought back in the bottom of the fourth with a two-run home run by Will McGillis. The Golden Eagles tied the game in the sixth inning after Christopher Sargent hit an RBI single following a Dustin Dickerson double.
The Golden Eagles took the lead in the seventh inning following a rocky performance by Pete Nielsen out of the Old Dominion bullpen.
Nielsen entered with two outs and a runner on first and threw a total of 13 pitches. He threw twelve balls with only one strike, resulting in three walks.
The third walk allowed pinch-runner Brady Faust to score which gave Southern Miss a 4-3 lead. Nielsen exited the game, and ODU recorded the final out of the inning.
Landon Harper relieved Waldrep in the seventh inning, and he delivered a strong performance.
Harper was one out away from recording the win in the ninth inning, but Thomas Wheeler hit a game-tying home run to left-center. Harper recorded a groundout to end the frame.
“After three innings, he wanted to go back in even though his pitch count was up. He had ample rest since he hadn’t worked since last weekend,” Berry said. “You get two quick outs there in the top of the ninth and you think it’s over. All of a sudden, a guy hits a really good pitch that wasn’t a mistake. He was able to overcome [the home run] by going out in the tenth and getting three outs.”
“My mentality is to take it pitch by pitch and do what I’m supposed to do,” Harper said. “I have confidence in myself to go out there and do what I need to do.”
Old Dominion went down in order in the top of the tenth and Southern Miss had a chance to walk it off.
The bottom of the tenth started with a throwing error which allowed Sargent to reach first. McGillis doubled at the next at-bat, and the Golden Eagles had runners on second and third with one out.
Lynch stepped up to the plate and hit a single into shallow right which allowed Sargent to score the game-winning run.
“[Old Dominion] might be the best offense in the country,” Lynch said. “We should have scored a few more runs this weekend, and our offense has been struggling. Our pitchers were able to hold it down because we have one of the best staffs in the country.”
“Iron sharpens iron, and that’s what we have with this pitching staff,” Harper said. “We grind every day, and we make each other better by competing with each other.”
Harper recorded the win for Southern Miss after a four-inning outing. He allowed one run on three hits with one walk and six strikeouts.
Brett Smith, who pitched the tenth inning for ODU, took the loss after going a third of an inning and giving up an unearned run on two hits.
Southern Miss’ next game is against Ole Miss Wednesday at Pete Taylor Park at 6 p.m.
Game Two: (Jackson Howell)
Southern Miss lost its second consecutive series as Old Dominion defeated the Golden Eagles 4-3 in a back-and-forth contest.
Southern Miss has cooled off in the last two weeks as they have lost four of their last six games following a 15-game winning streak.
“The winning streak put us on a real high. [We] knew we were going to lose at some point,” Head Coach Scott Berry said. “We went 27 days where we did not experience a loss, and we haven’t played well enough to win a series in back-to-back weekends.”
Southern Miss started threatening the Monarchs in the first inning with three consecutive walks to start off.
Christopher Sargent managed to bat in a run, though it was by grounding into a double play. A groundout followed, and the Golden Eagles managed one run after having the bases loaded with no outs.
Old Dominion answered in the second inning with a controversial play at home plate. With runners on first and third, Robbie Petracci hit a ground ball to second base.
The ball was thrown to Rodrigo Montenegro at home, and the umpire called the runner safe in a close play. Berry stormed home to plead his case to the umpire, but to no avail.
“[The umpire] said he didn’t tag him, so I don’t know if he tagged him or not,” Berry said. “Everything was right there to stop that run from scoring, but we didn’t get it done.”
Southern Miss took the lead in the fourth inning after Slade Wilks hit a two-run home run off the new scoreboard. This was Wilks’ second game back after he suffered an oblique injury two weeks ago.
“I took a swing [in batting practice before a game against Rice], and I felt my oblique get tight,” Wilks said. “I’m starting to feel better, and my swing’s starting to be back to what it was.”
Old Dominion followed up the next inning with a two-run double off the wall from Matt Coutney that was barely out of Charlie Fischer’s reach.
An infield single scored Coutney, and the Monarchs took a 4-3 lead. Fischer made his first collegiate start in the field after being solely a designated hitter.
“He works out there in practice, but he doesn’t play [there] in the game,” Berry said. “Tough play for a guy who doesn’t play out there every day, but I was surprised it stayed in [the ballpark].”
Berry said Fischer’s start in left field was due to his offensive play. Reece Ewing would typically be the third outfielder with Gabe Montenegro and Carson Paetow, but Ewing suffered a broken hand against Rice. Berry said his timetable to return is uncertain.
Jacob Gomez entered the game for Old Dominion in the fifth inning, and he shut the Golden Eagle offense down.
Gomez gave up one hit over 4.1 innings with six strikeouts. That one hit came in the ninth inning when Blake Johnson pinch-hit for a double.
Rodrigo Montenegro landed a sacrifice bunt that pushed Johnson to third. After a Gabe Montenegro walk, Dustin Dickerson grounded into a double play to end the game.
“We’re just not playing like we need to play,” Berry said. “Right now, Old Dominion’s a better team than us if you want to know the truth. They’re swinging the bat better than us and playing better defense than us.”
Dalton Rogers took the loss for the Golden Eagles after giving up four runs (three earned runs) and eight hits over six innings with three strikeouts.
Rogers was a highlight out of the bullpen, as he struck out eight of the ten batters he faced over three innings.
“We know what the feeling is like when our backs are against the wall. We can’t get swept at home,” Wilks said. “They’re playing better than us right now, but we have to come out tomorrow and prove who we are.”
Southern Miss hosts Old Dominion in the series finale Sunday at Pete Taylor Park. The first pitch is at 11 a.m.
Tanner Hall dealt a night to remember but still recorded the loss in a game against the Old Dominion Monarchs.
Southern Miss had not dropped a Friday night game in six straight weeks but has now dropped two in a row.
“[In] five of the nine innings, we left a runner on second base, needed a two-out hit,” Head Coach Scott Berry said. “I guess the disappointing thing is that in two of those five innings, we had someone on second with nobody out and we still weren’t able to score.”
A frustrating night for the hitting turned into a spectacular night for Hall. Hall posted a final line of 8 IP, 8 H, 3 R, a career-high 14 K on and 99 total pitches.
“Yeah doggonit, you know, he leaves a couple of pitches up high. We saw the stats and their hitting is strong.” Berry said. “Two of their guys had pitches up and they didn’t miss them.”
Before the game, Old Dominion was hitting balls out of the park in batting practice left and right, which translated into the contest.
The Monarchs got the scoring in the top of the second, with Robbie Petracci hitting his 11th of the season to give them a 1-0 advantage.
Southern Miss answered with an RBI single from Christopher Sargent to plate Gabe Montenegro to tie the game at 1-1.
But Thomas Wheeler gave the Monarchs the lead back with an RBI single in the fifth, and then Matt Coutney blasted his 23rd homer of the year in the eighth to go up 3-1. Old Dominion ranked second in the country in home runs coming into the contest..
The final score came in the top of the ninth with an RBI double by Kyle Edwards.
“It was a game of momentum. We could never get it back. They kept it even after we got one.” Berry said. “We have to create opportunities like we did tonight but we have to cash in on them as well.”