Southern Miss rallies South Alabama in 9th, 6-4
Two future Sun Belt Conference rivals played out another hotly contested game at Stanky Field on Tuesday night.
Visiting Southern Miss scored three in the ninth to claim a 6-4 victory over Southern Alabama in front of a season-best crowd of 2,769. The fifth-ranked Golden Eagles (35-10) won two of the Jaguars’ three-game season series, with all three games decided by a total of five runs.
Southern Miss led most of the way Tuesday, before South Alabama (24-19) scored four in the seventh to take a 4-3 lead. But the Jaguars couldn’t hold on, as the Golden Eagles regained the lead against first-year reliever Seth Carter.
The game-winning hit for Southern Miss came from a Mobile County native, with first baseman Christopher Sargent lining up a two-run single with one out in the ninth. Danny Lynch then added an RBI single to make it 6-4.
Southern Alabama put two runners with one out in the ninth against Dalton Rogers, closer to Southern Miss, but Golden Eagles’ Carson Paetow grabbed a running Cameron Tissue drive in the corner of right field for the second withdrawal. Rogers then knocked out Erick Orbeta to end the game and lock in his fourth save.
“I told the team to keep believing,” South Alabama coach Mark Calvi said. “I’m super proud of this group, because there is never an ounce of giving up in this team. We have a few pieces, and I told them that we were close. We are in every game and I believe in them , and they have to believe it. There’s no quitting in this club; I saw that this (last) weekend (at Texas State). They keep going out and working and training hard, lifting weights in the weight room and going to class. They do pretty much everything right. I’m proud of this group. I’m judged on wins and losses, but I judge these guys on the effort and their effort is there all the time.
South Alabama and Southern Miss shared a pair of games earlier this season in Hattiesburg, with the Jaguars winning 6-5 in 13 innings on Feb. 22 and the Golden Eagles earning a 7-5 win on March 8. Southern Misses will join the Sun Belt Conference in all sports at the end of the sports year, meaning their future games with Southern Alabama will be played in a three-game weekend series.
Tuesday’s win was Southern Miss’s first in Mobile since 2017. It was especially sweet for Sargent, who played her high school ball nearby at Faith Academy.
“Coming home is always great, I love coming home,” Sargent said. “Being able to play (South Alabama) three games a season, I love that. I’ve never won a game here. We haven’t won a game here in a long time. … It’s the best thing ever.
Southern Miss got Gabe Montenegro’s triple RBI in the fourth and Will McGillis’ 2-run homer in the sixth against South Alabama starting pitcher Walker Johnson to take a 3-0 lead, but the Golden Eagles starter Matthew Adams finally started to tire in the seventh after holding the Jaguars to one out of six hits. He allowed infield singles to Will Turner and Santi Montiel before Stokes lined up a two-out single to the right to make it 3-1.
Reliever Tyler Stuart hit pinch hitter Kasey Donaldson with a pitch to load the bases, then Diego Altamirano hammered the first pitch he saw from Drew Boyd into the gap at left center for a three-run double and a 4-3 lead in South Alabama. . Justin Storm (1-0) finally knocked the Golden Eagles out of the inning and pitched a scoreless eighth for the win.
Carter (0-2) came on as a relief from JoJo Booker in the eighth and went through that inning with a pair of strikeouts. He pulled out Brady Faust to start the ninth, but allowed back-to-back singles to Montenegro and Dustin Dickerson, then walked Paetow to charge the bases.
That brought Sargent, who ripped a 1-1 curveball past a dipping fabric in the third to score a deuce and make it 5-4. After McGillis flew to the deep right, Lynch fielded a left single to score Paetow and give the Golden Eagles a two-run cushion.
Tyler Lehrmann came in and out the final, but the lead had been lost. Lehrmann and fellow reliever Grant Wood were warming up in the South Alabama bullpen throughout the ninth, but Calvi said he was sticking with Carter, who ironically is from Ocean Springs, Miss.
“I believe in Seth Carter, he’s going to be good here and help us win games this year; I’m not waiting for next year,” Calvi said. “We had to ask guys to step in for certain roles, and Seth is one of those guys. I’ll go back to him. We believe in him and I would do the same – I would have left him there , there’s no doubt about it. He’s going to be great for this program, and the only way to learn is to go out there and hesitate and learn through the experiences. And that was an experience tonight.
Southern Alabama returns home Friday in the opener of a three-game Sun Belt series with Arkansas State.