HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - For the third time this season, Taylor Park worked its ninth-inning magic.
Southern Miss shortstop LeeMarcus Boyd scorched a two-out, first-pitch fastball just inside the third-base bag to score Mason Irby with the game-winning run in the Golden Eagles' come-from-behind 4-3 victory over Columbia University Tuesday night.
"Sometimes it just seems like it," USM coach Scott Berry said of the last-at-bat heroics. "Sometimes."
Boyd, who had hit into two of USM's six double plays against the Lions, drove in the Golden Eagles' final two runs with singles into left field.
"I didn't try and change my approach, just stayed with it and what my coaches are telling me," Boyd said. "It worked out for me in the end."
Southern Miss (12-4) won its third consecutive game and improved to 10-1 at home, while Columbia (0-8) remained winless in its spring swing through the South.
Reliever Nick Sandlin (3-0), the third of USM's three pitchers, allowed one hit in between three strikeouts in the top of the ninth inning to pick up the win. In 11 innings over six appearances this season, Sandlin has allowed one run and three hits, while striking out 20 and walking two.
USM fell behind 3-1 after the Lions pushed across three runs in the top of third inning on a single by shortstop Joe Engel, a throwing error and a sacrifice fly.
But USM got a run back in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by left fielder Hunter Slater to score first baseman Dylan Burdeaux, who had doubled to lead off the inning.
The Golden Eagles tied the game in the seventh. Pinch hitter Mason Irby doubled over the head of right fielder Julian Bury to lead off the inning, went to third base on a sacrifice bunt by catcher Cole Donaldson and scored on Boyd's liner into left-center.
Left-hander Leo Pollack (0-1), who allowed one run on one hit in 2 1/3 innings, issued a one-out walk to Irby in the ninth inning, who moved to second on Donaldson's slow grounder to first base.
Boyd pounced on the first pitch, scalding it just between third baseman Randell Kanemaru and the line.
"I was looking for a first pitch I could handle, and once I saw that, I swung on it and happily it go through," Boyd said.
Kanemaru was the lone Lion with more than one hit, while Boyd was the sole Golden Eagle with two hits.
The teams will meet a 2 p.m. Wednesday at Taylor Park. The game originally was scheduled for 6 p.m., but was moved up because the women's basketball team is hosting an opening-round game in the National Women's Invitational Tournament.
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