USM’s Ethridge follows no-hitter with another pitching gem

Freshman right-hander throws 3-hit, 7 inning shutout as USM clinches weekend baseball series with MTSU
Updated: May. 8, 2021 at 10:28 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) _ It couldn’t have been easy being the guy following the guy on the mound who just threw a no-hitter.

But durned if Ben Ethridge didn’t do himself and his University of Southern Mississippi teammates just fine Saturday evening at Pete Taylor Park.

Like Walker Powell just a few hours before him, Ethridge allowed the same number of runs (none) over the same number of innings (seven) in the 19th-ranked Golden Eagles’ 9-0 victory over Middle Tennessee State University in the second game of a Conference USA doubleheader.

The major difference was Powell didn’t allow a hit to the Blue Raiders, while Ethridge allowed all of three on his way to a second consecutive complete game.

Ethridge did nudge his senior predecessor in one category, issuing zero walks to the one that ruined Powell’s shot at a perfect game.

With the third consecutive gem by USM’s starting pitchers, the Golden Eagles (32-15, 19-7 C-USA) clinched the weekend series with the Blue Raiders (21-24-1, 10-16-1) and will go for a sweep at 1 p.m. Sunday.

With its 3-0 series mark, USM moved into a tie atop C-USA’s West Division with division leader, No. 14 Louisiana Tech University.

The Bulldogs (33-12, 19-7 C-USA), who saw Friday’s series opener with Florida International University rained out, split a doubleheader Saturday with the Panthers.

USM plays a single game Sunday, while Tech and FIU have another doubleheader scheduled.

Depending on the results, and assuming all three games are played, USM could find itself 1/12 games ahead, 1 1/2 games behind or somewhere in between by the end of the day Sunday..

Ethridge (6-1) never was threatened Saturday, allowing a hit in each of the third, fifth and sixth innings.

Luke Vinson got MTSU’s first hit of the day with one out in the third inning, but eventually was caught stealing to end the inning.

Cole Escher led off the fifth inning with a double, but remained stranded on second base.

Vinson singled again in the seventh, but never advanced from first base.

Ethridge faced just 23 Blue Raiders, two batters over the minimum for a seven-inning game.

He followed Friday’s Hunter Stanley and Powell by turning in the third consecutive dominating performance this weekend by a Golden Eagle starting pitcher.

Consider in 23 innings covered by USM’s starters:

  • Zero runs
  • Five hits
  • One walk
  • Thirty-four strikeouts
  • Two complete games and a nine-inning effort in the other.

Ethridge got all the run support he would need in the second inning when Will McGills was hit by a pitch with two outs, stole second and scored on Blake Johnson’s single.

USM broke the game open with a five-run the third inning, Christopher Sargent’s home run brought home three runs and McGillis added a solo shot as USM grabbed a 6-0 lead..

The Golden Eagles added three more runs in the sixth inning on Johnson’s two-run single and a run-scoring grounder by Slade Wilks.

Aaron Brown (5-5) took the pitching loss, allowing six runs on six hits in 2 2/3 innings. He walked one, struck out two.

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