For a second consecutive game, the University of Southern Mississippi found base hits tough to come by Friday night.
But, fortunately for the Golden Eagles, the majority of the hits they did manage proved to be the difference.
First baseman Hunter Slater’s opposite-field single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning allowed No. 15 USM to escape with a 4-3 victory over Georgia Southern University at Taylor Park.
USM (9-4), which got just two singles Wednesday in a 3-0 loss at the University of Alabama, had just five more Friday.
But two hits came in each of the two innings where the Golden Eagles pushed across runs, including the decisive final rally.
USM erased a 2-0 deficit in the sixth inning, sandwiching three walks between a pair of singles off GSU starter Brian Eichhorn.
Second baseman Matthew Guidry singled with one out and consecutive walks to outfielder Mason Irby and third baseman Luke Reynolds loaded the bases.
Outfielder Matt Wallner forced in an run with another walk before designated hitter Daniel Keating grounded an 0-2 pitch through the hole and into left field for a two-run single and 3-2 USM lead.
Eichhorn, who threw 118 pitches, allowed three runs on three hits, He struck out five and walked three.
USM starting pitcher Nick Sandlin protected the lead until being lifted after allowing a first-pitch, leadoff single to GSU third baseman Chandler Corley.
Reliever Adam Jackson got a strikeout but then was tagged for a run-scoring double to the wall in right-field wall by first baseman Mason McWhorter to tie the game.
Jackson was lifted in favor of Wallner, who got out of the inning on two ground balls that stranded McWhorter at third.
Sandlin, who threw 112 pitches in a second consecutive no-decision, allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits. He walked one and struck out 12 in his seven-plus innings.
Wallner (1-0) got his first victory of the season, allowing two hits in 2 2/3 scoreless innings. He logged his only strikeout to end the top of the ninth and got a double-play grounder to end the top of the 10th inning.
Irby walked for the second time in the game to lead off the bottom of the 10th inning off GSU reliever Chase Cohen (1-2). Reynolds followed with a single to right field, sending Irby to third.
GSU intentionally walked Wallner to load the bases with no outs, and on a 2-0 count, Slater drove a fly that one-hopped the wall in left.
Reynolds had two of USM’s five singles and walked twice. Irby scored twice.
Georgia Southern (7-7) outhit USM 8-5, with McWhorter collecting a double and single and Corley hitting two singles.
First pitch for Saturday’s second game of the three-game weekend series between USM and Georgia Southern was moved to noon from 2 p.m. because of inclement weather expected later in the afternoon in the Pine Belt.
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