HATTIESBURG, MS (USM) - Brant Blaylock’s double tied the score and Cole Donaldson’s sacrifice fly brought in the game-winning run as Southern Miss scored twice in the bottom of the eighth inning Tuesday night to take a 5-4 victory over ULM at Pete Taylor Park.
J.C. Keys, who gave up three hits in the top of the eighth inning as the Warhawks rallied for a 4-3 lead, struck out three in the top of the ninth inning to go with a two-out single as the Golden Eagles won for the eighth time in their last nine games.
“We didn’t hit the ball as well as we had the past weekend, but we’re doing better at the plate,” Southern Mis coach Scott Berry said. “We had a pretty balanced lineup (Tuesday), offensively.”
Hunter Slater had three singles and scored three runs, Matt Wallner walked three times and drove in a run with a double and Bryant Bowen and Matthew Guidry each drove home a run as Southern Miss (12-6) collected at least 10 hits for a fifth consecutive game.
“At Louisiana Tech (27 runs on 40 hits in a sweep of the Bulldogs), you got a sneak preview of what we can do and what we expect to do every night,” said Blaylock, who returned to the everyday lineup over the weekend after being sidelined since late February by a wrist sprain that left him unable to swing a bat.
“The energy was a little lower then we wanted, but we’re a good team and we found a way to win, so that’s all you can ask for.”
ULM (7-13), coached by former long-time Southern Miss assistant Michael Federico, got on board in the first inning when Trent Tingelstad hit his second home run of the season, a solo shot to right field off USM starter Gabe Shepard.
Shephard wound up striking out the other five Warhawks he faced over his first two innings.
Southern Miss tied the game in the third inning when Slater led off with a single and Wallner followed with a run-scoring double an out later.
The Golden Eagles went up 2-1 in the fifth inning on four walks, and made it a two-run game in the sixth inning on Will McGillis’ single, a double by Gabe Montenegro and Guidry’s sacrifice fly.
ULM led off the eighth inning with consecutive singles, forcing Southern Miss reliever Alex Nelms from the game and bringing in Keys from the bullpen.
Keys struck out Ryan Humeniuk, but Tingelstad doubled down the right-field line to tie the game and Chad Bell followed with a run-scoring grounder through a drawn-in infield for a 4-3 Warhawks’ lead.
But Southern Miss came back. With one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, Gudiry walked and moved to third base on Slater’s third single of the night. Blaylock then turned on a fastball from ULM reliever Richard Hebert (0-1) and ripped a double inside the third-base bag to tie the score and send Slater to third base.
The Warhawks intentionally walked Wallner to load the bases, but Donaldson thwarted the strategy, lifting a fly ball to medium center field off ULM reliever Logan McDowell that brought home Slater with the go-ahead run.
Keys (1-0) opened the ninth by striking Logan Wurm and Braedon Barrett. Brendan Jordan laced a clean single into shallow left-center with two outs, but Keys struck out Masen Prososki to end the game.