PEARL, MS (WDAM) _ For the first five innings Tuesday night at Trustmark Park, the University of Southern Mississippi could not take advantage of opportunities to put profound pressure on the University of Mississippi.
And because of that, all it took was one inning _a brutally bad one for USM, but still just one inning _ for the 10th-ranked Rebels to completely flip the conversation and eventually bury the Golden Eagles 11-2 before an announced 4,097.
Southern Miss (20-10) led 2-1 through five innings, but had left eight runners stranded over that span, including having bases loaded twice with one out and failing to score.
“Tuesday’s just have not been very good for us,” Berry said “Against a very good club like Ole Miss, you can’t play play we did.
“We started out good, but then lost the momentum there early in the innings by not getting some runs in there. In the game, we create some opportunities, but the leave 11 guys on base. We struck out 10 times. Then we don’t make some plays there in the sixth inning, and that was pretty much the ballgame.”
Both teams scored in the first inning.
Southern Miss’ Bryant Bowen knocked in Gabe Montenegro with a single, extending his hitting streak to 14 consecutive games, the longest streak by a Golden Eagle this season.
Ole Miss tied the score in the bottom the inning when Anthony Servideo singled, stole second, moved to third base on a wild pitch and scored on a double-play grounder.
The Golden Eagles took the lead in the second inning on three, consecutive hits to right field, including back-to-back singles by Danny Lynch and Will McGillis and an RBI-double off the outfield wall.
Matt Guidry was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Ole Miss starter Zack Phillips calmed down and calmed the storm, getting Hunter Slater and Bowen on petty pop ups to end the inning.
Southern Miss pitchers Jarod Wright (three innings) and Sean Tweedy (two innings) allowed the Rebels (24-10) just the opening single and three walks over the first five innings.
And USM kept missing opportunities.
After a 1-2-3 third inning, USM again loaded the bases with one out against Phillips on a single by Slater, a double by Bowen and intentional walk to Matt Wallner.
But Ole Miss reliever Austin Miller struck out Brant Blaylock and Cole Donaldson to get the Rebels out of the bind.
“The key was we were able to keep them to two (runs),” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “We pitched out of several jams, and I really thought the turning point might have been when Miller came in, intentionally walked Wallner and then got back-to-back strikeouts.
“That really kept us in the game because if we let that inning blow up on us, then we’re in trouble.”
Instead, the Rebels were ready to pounce.
Tweedy, who had issued two walks coming into Tuesday night, walked three batters in a row with one out, including the last two on eight pitches.
That brought in Mason Strickland, who got a slow roller to third base that wasn’t hit hard enough to turn a double play and scored the tying run.
The next batter hit a chopper to the right side that Slater started to field, realized he couldn’t and started back to cover the bag. Guidry, who had shifted far to his left easily fielded the ball, and the 2-foot throw to Slater was as routine as the sun setting at night.
Except Slater couldn’t handle the throw. The ball bounced away, allowing another run to score for a 3-2 lead and sending runners to second base and third base.
Ole Miss catcher Knox Loposer then lifted a long fly into the left-center field gap that Montenegro looked like he had a play on but instead went for a two-run double and 5-1 Ole Miss lead.
Right fielder Chase Cockrell followed with an opposite-field single to score Loposter, but was out trying to stretch the single into a double.
Still, Ole Miss had scored 5 runs, and would tack another run in the seventh on Tyler Keenan’s double for a 7-1 lead and then put the game away with a four-run eighth inning that included a run-scoring single by Loposter.
The official scorer changed two plays in the eighth innings to infield hits, so Loposter and Servideo led the Rebels with two hits apiece. Shortstop Grae Kessinger extended his hitting streak to nine games and ‘reached-base’ streak to 22 consecutive games.
Slater, Bowen and McGillis each had two hits for USM.
Tweedy (5-1) took the loss, allowing three runs (one earned) in 2 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out four.
Miller (3-0) picked up the pitching win, walking one and striking out three in 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
Southern Miss will travel to Florida International University this weekend for a three-game Conference USA baseball series.