HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) _ After posting one of the program’s most haywire ever pitching boxscores Tuesday night, the University of Southern Mississippi was in line to absorb its first loss of the young 2020 season.
But the Golden Eagles declined that opportunity, and instead stayed close enough to the University of New Orleans for another chapter of Pete Taylor Park magic to be duly noted and chronicled.
USM freshman outfielder Reed Trimble, lined a two-out, bases-loaded double over the head of UNO right fielder Pearce Howard with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Golden Eagles a 6-5, walk-off victory.
The outcome marked the 18th walk-off baseball victory at Pete Taylor Park since 2017. It marked the first walk-off in many, many moons for Trimble.
“It was a long time ago, when I was like 12 or 13,” said Trimble, who came into the game with two hits in his first three games as a Golden Eagle and doubled his output with two more Tuesday night.
“I’d never done it at this level, so it’s a lot cooler, now.”
Trimble’s blister on a 1-2 count allowed USM (4-0) to remain unbeaten but survive a pitching effort that walked seven Privateers and hit six batters as well.
But USM’s wayward arms translated to about the only offense the Privateers could mount.
UNO scored in just two innings, with only one hit in either of the rallies, and that was a leadoff single in a four-run second inning by senior center fielder Luther Woullard.
Woullard, a former Jones College standout, managed one of the only four hits off six USM pitchers.
And those six pitchers, including newcomers Tyler Spring, Drew Boyd and Ben Ethridge, combined to strike out 18 UNO batters, one shy of the program’s single-game staff record.
“We didn’t do a whole lot of good (Tuesday),” USM coach Scott Berry said. “(UNO) coach, he’d probably the same thing about his club, that they didn’t deserve to win, and like we didn’t either.
“But somebody’s gotta come out a winner, and the one good thing that we did is we stayed in the game. We missed on a lot of opportunities, but we gave ourselves a chance in the end.”
USM got out to a 2-0 lead on a two-out, two-run double by Danny Lynch off UNO junior left-handed starter Kyle Khachadourian.
But UNO (1-3) put up for runs on USM senior right-handed starter Tyler Spring, who loaded the bases on Woullard’s leadoff single, a wild pitch, a walk and a hit batsman.
Spring walked Matt Dias on four pitches, ending his outing, and bringing in sophomore left-hander Drew Boyd.
Boyd, who struck out three in the inning, also walked one and hit two batters to force in three more runs.
USM tied the game in the bottom of the second on senior second baseman Matt Guidry’s one-out, two-run, ground-rule double.
Both teams squandered scoring opportunities, combining to strand 26 runners.
UNO threw seven pitchers, who combined to allow 10 hits, issue eight walks and hit four batters.
USM got some stalwart relief pitching from Ethridge, a freshman right-hander from West Lauderdale High School. In his first appearance as a Golden Eagle, Ethridge went 2 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit, no walks and striking out four.
Stanley (1-0) also was stout, allowing just one walk in 2 2/3 innings, striking out six. But like Boyd, Stanley came into the game with the bases loaded, and forced in the tie-breaking run with a four-pitch walk, before working out of the jam.
USM stranded nine between the fifth and eighth innings, including back-to-back loaded bases in the sixth and seventh innings.
With one out in the ninth inning, freshman pinch-hitter Fisher Norris hit a dribbler out in front of the plate. UNO junior first baseman Hudson LaHorde could not handle the throw from just-inserted-for-defensive-purposes UNO sophomore catcher Jorge Tejada.
Freshman shortstop Dustin Dickerson and junior outfielder Gabe Montenegro followed with singles to center to load the bases and set the stage for Trimble’s dramatic hit.
“Their right fielder, he’d been playing in all night, so I knew from the crack of the bat that it was going to burn him,” Trimble said.
Montenegro reached base four times Tuesday on a walk and three singles, scoring twice. Dickerson reached three times on a walk, a double and a single and scored twice.
Trimble was 2-of-5 with two RBIs and walked. Lynch walked and went 2-of-4 with a double. Gudiry reached twice and drove in two runs with his double.
UNO starting senior catcher Beau Bratton had his team’s lone extra-base hit, a triple, and scored a run.
UNO senior shortstop Darren Willis reached three times with a single and two walks with two RBIs, while freshman designated hitter Max Dias walked and singled, scored a run and drove in a run.
USM will host the University of Central Arkansas in a three-game series starting at 6 p.m. Friday at Pete Taylor Park.