Golden Eagles outlast Illinois in 11-inning marathon

Published: Feb. 25, 2023 at 11:28 PM CST
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Southern Miss Sports Information

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Carson Paetow lined an RBI game-winning single to center in the 11th inning to lift Southern Miss to a 14-13 victory over Illinois Saturday afternoon at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field.

The win improved the Golden Eagles to 5-1 this season, evening the three-game weekend series with the Fighting Illini (3-3). The deciding game of the set takes place, Sunday, at 12 noon.

In a game that featured three tied scores and five lead changes, the contest was even at 13-13 in the bottom of the 11th. After Illinois pitcher Julius Sanchez got Danny Lynch to ground out to first to open the frame, he walked two straight batters and hit another to load the bases.

With the outfielders playing in, Paetow lined a shot over the centerfielder’s head to win the contest. The play was reviewed to check the runners and the outcome of the game was decided four more minutes when the umpires ruled the winning run had indeed scored.

The walk-off victory for the Golden Eagles was their 25th since the start of the 2017 season, 22 of which have come at The Pete.

Lynch led the way for the Golden Eagles with two hits and four RBI, while Matthew Etzel added three hits, with Dustin Dickerson and Paetow recording two apiece in the 15-hit Southern Miss attack.

Illinois shortstop Cal Hejza had two hits for the visitors with seven RBI, which included a pair of three-run homers. His first shot in the seventh tied the contest at 9-9, while his second blast came with one out in the top of the ninth to give the Illini a 12-10 advantage.

The Golden Eagles, though, got RBI singles from both Lynch and Etzel in the bottom of the ninth to tie the score and send it into extra frames.

It was Hejza again who put Illinois up in the 10th with a sacrifice fly. That play, though, turned into an inning-ending double play for the Golden Eagles as a runner was picked off second base.

Now down 13-12 in the bottom half of the frame, Golden Eagle Christopher Sargent reached on a strikeout that bounced in front of the Fighting Illini catcher and down the first base side in foul territory. The ball was retrieved and then thrown over the first baseman’s head in trying to retire Sargent.

Instead, Sargent reached base and went to third following a pair of wild pitches. Pinch hitter Matthew Russo followed with a groundout to the right side to plate Sargent and tie the game again at 13-apiece.

Southern Miss had jumped out to an early 7-3 lead with a five-run third, but Illinois fought back and eventually tied the game in the seventh.

Freshman Nick Monistere, the ninth and final Golden Eagle pitcher, threw a scoreless last inning, allowing a single with a strikeout to earn the victory and improve to 1-0, while Illinois reliever Julius Sanchez gave up a run on a hit with two walks and strikeout over the final 1 1/3 innings to suffer the loss. He fell to 0-2 on the season.

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