MOBILE, AL (WDAM) - No. 13 University of Southern Mississippi saw a five-run lead evaporate in the late innings as No. 17 University of South Alabama rallied Tuesday for a 10-9 victory in a marathon of a ballgame at Eddie Stanky Field.
The Jaguars (4-1) scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to erase an 8-6 deficit. USM third baseman Luke Reynolds led off the top of the ninth with his second solo home run of the night to pull the Golden Eagles back within 10-9, and got a one-out single from first baseman Hunter Slater to put the potential tying run on base.
But USA closer Chase Lambert got a first-pitch, double-play grounder from pinch-hitter Jaylon Keys as the Jaguars handed the Golden Eagles (3-1) their first loss of the season.
For USM, it was a disappointing ending to a game that took four hours, six minutes, to play and one that seemed to be in the Golden Eagles' grasp for five innings.
USM led 4-0 going into the bottom of the fourth inning and 8-3 after five.
But USA scored three unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth inning after second baseman Storme Cooper threw away a potential double-play grounder, and then roughed up three USM pitchers for the game-winning four-spot in the eighth.
The Jaguars pushed runs across the plate with a RBI-single, a bases-loaded walk and two sacrifice flies.
The teams combined for 19 runs and 27 hits against 13 pitchers, with USM calling upon seven and USA six. In addition to the hits, the two staffs combined to issue 17 walks and hit three batters.
Yet as prolific as the offensive numbers were, the damage either could have inflicted potentially could have been even greater if the teams had not combined to strand 31 baserunners. USA left 16 on base; USM, 15. The Golden Eagles stranded at least two baserunners in seven different innings.
USM did most of their damage against the Jags' first two pitchers, starter Tyler Perez and reliever Zach Melton. The duo allowed eight runs (six earned) on eight hits and six walks in 4 2/3 innings.
Against the ensuing four USA hurlers, the Golden Eagles only managed one run on five hits and three walks.
Reynolds led USM with three hits, including his second and third home runs of the season. After scoring three runs and driving in two, Reynolds now has scored nine runs and driven in seven in USM's first four games.
Slater, left fielder Gabe Montenegro and shortstop LeeMarcus Boyd each had two hits, with Slater knocking in a pair of runs.
USA left fielder Dylan Hardy got three hits at the top of the Jaguars' lineup, scoring twice and driving in a run. Second baseman Hunter Stokes, catcher Carter Perkins and shortstop Brendan Donovan collected two hits apiece, with Stokes scoring two runs and Donovan driving in two.
In his first appearance in two seasons, USM right-hander Walker Powell got the start and turned in three shutout innings, allowing just two hits, but walking four while striking out four.
Alex Nelms was roughed up for three runs on three hits in 1/3 of an inning, and Jarod Wright was the victim in USA's three-run sixth inning, while Jacob Weirich, Keller Bradford and Stevie Powers were on the mound in the eighth inning.
Bradford (0-1) took the loss, allowing two runs on two hits. USA's fifth pitcher, JoJo Baker (1-0) picked up the win, while Lambert notched his second save of the season.