HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Two games into the 2020 baseball, the one thing the University of Southern Mississippi could not have happen, has.
Injuries have already sidelined three starting position players, leading USM coach Scott Berry to turn to a shallow bench.
“Guys are going to have to step up,” Berry said. "We’ve got three guys down, so that gives guys an opportunity.
“The problem is, we just don’t have a lot of depth. We just don’t have numbers. We’ve just got to try stay healthy and try and figure out how to win with the personnel we have.”
The injured Golden Eagles include:
- Sophomore infielder Austen Izzio.
The Carriere native who transferred to USM from Pearl River Community College was in line to possibly start opening day before being sidelined.
“We don’t know yet,” Berry said when asked what had happened to Izzio "Possible hernia. We’re getting that checked out Tuesday, so we’ll see where we are with that.
- Sophomore first baseman/cleanup hitter Will McGillis.
The transplanted shortstop came up with two assists and two putouts in his first start at first base Friday evening before coming up gimpy after running to first base on his two-out, two-run single in the Golden Eagles’ six-run seventh inning.
McGillis did not play Saturday, allowing senior Brant Blaylock to get the start at first base.
“Well, I didn’t want to push it,” Berry said. "He’s probably 50 percent running. But he’s fine hitting it. If I would have had to use him in a walk-off situation at the plate, I would have.
“A hamstring is his situation, and it’s too long of a year and not enough people. Plus, Blaylock’s a senior and he needs to step up, and he did (Saturday).”
Blaylock was 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored Saturday.
- Junior left fielder/leadoff hitter Gabe Montenegro.
The preseason All-Conference USA selection was hit in his left hand on the first pitch in Saturday’s game from Murray State starter Shane Burns.
“He was taken for X-rays, and, hopefully, it’s not bad,” Berry said. “I was told it may be 50-50 (for broken bones), but we just don’t know yet.”
Montenegro stayed in the game, stole second base and then scored on the front end of a hit-and-run that gave USM a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
He went to left field to start the second inning, but was pinch-hit for by sophomore Hunter LeBlanc in the bottom of the second inning.
“We were hoping he could the feeling back, but he just didn’t have any strength in there,” Berry said. "(Montenegro) said, ‘Let me go out and try and see if I can work through it.’
“It was his glove side, so I was concerned if he could even catch the ball. I asked him if he could close his mitt to catch the ball, and he said, ‘Yes, sir,’ so we put we put him out there. But once he came back in, it was still pretty painful and Sven (Pearson), our trainer, said he probably needed to sit, so that’s what we did.”
LeBlanc, who had entered Friday’s game as a pinch-runner and scored a run, went 1-for-3 Saturday.
USM (2-0) will wrap up its three-game set with the Racers at 1 p.m. Sunday at Pete Taylor Park.