USM advances to play South Alabama in NCAA regional

USM advances to play South Alabama in NCAA regional

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - It took a bases-loaded groundout for Southern Miss to finally put out the Flames of Illinois-Chicago.

The Golden Eagles rallied from a five-run deficit to beat UIC 8-7 in the opening round of the NCAA regionals.

Flames catcher Rob Calabrese roped a grand slam to put Illinois-Chicago up 6-1 in the fifth inning. USM redshirt freshman Matt Guidry stepped up to the plate as a pinch-hitter and responded.

The Oak Grove alum's double in the bottom of the fifth brought in two runs to help cut the deficit to 6-4. Guidry's next time up resulted in an RBI-single, scoring Mason Irby for the go-ahead run.

"It was kind of quiet," Guidry said. "We were trying to figure out - trying to wake up, I guess you could say. Just like every other game this year, we knew that we had each other's back and we're never out of a game. Couple batters later, everyone got back locked in and we ended up getting on a roll."

In Southern Miss' third win of the season after trailing by five or more runs, the Eagles saw contributions throughout the lineup.

Hayden Roberts (5-2) relieved starter Kirk McCarty on the mound with 1 2/3 innings, striking out three and allowing just two hits and one run. Roberts also saved a run by smoothly flipping a UIC bunt to catcher Cole Donaldson in the sixth inning.

Nick Sandlin earned his eighth save of the year after giving up one hit and zero runs in two innings pitched.

"They believe in one another and that's what's so special," said Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry. "That's what chemistry is all about. They believe in one another and they're there for one another. Whoever's in that lineup, they're pulling for that guy knowing that they may have an opportunity just like [Guidry], to get in and help us."

Southern Miss plays South Alabama in game two on Saturday at 6 p.m. The Golden Eagles beat the Jaguars 4-2 on March 28 at Pete Taylor Park and 13-7 on April 25 in Mobile, Alabama.