HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) - Matt Wallner hit a pair of solo home runs and Bryant Bowen added another as Southern Miss topped 13th-ranked Ole Miss 5-3 Wednesday night before the fifth-largest crowd in Pete Taylor Park history.
Southern Miss (30-13) snapped a five-game losing streak against Ole Miss (30-16) by winning its ninth consecutive ballgame, and in the process, log its 18th consecutive season with at least 30 wins.
“The guys competed really well, and did some things really well to win this game (Wednesday),” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. “Over the past couple weeks I feel like our guys have consistently - and I say consistently because that’s what has been missing the whole year - played good baseball in all phases.”
Seven Southern Miss pitchers limited the Rebels to five hits, including J.C. Keys (2-1), who struck out six Rebels over the final 2 2/3 innings to pick up the victory.
“Everything’s coming together” Keys said. “Pitching’s coming together. Bats are coming together. Defense. Eveything is coming together and this is the right time for it to happen.”
Wallner, who collected the fourth multiple home run game of his career and second in the past 11 days, finished with three hits, three runs scored and two RBIs.
“I’ve been here three years and had never beaten Ole Miss, so this was a lot of fun,” Wallner said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for all those guys over there.”
Bowen hit his ninth home run of the season, the Golden Eagles’ third solo shot of the game, and Hunter LeBlanc and Danny Lynch each had two hits and drove in a run before an announced 5,202.
After bringing a flyball by Ole Miss designated hitter Cole Zabowski back into the ballpark to save two runs, Wallner gave Southern Miss a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second with his 13th home run of the season.
Ole Miss tied the game in the fourth inning when Zabowski singled, moved to second on a walk and scored on Anthony Servideo’s single.
The Golden Eagles regained the lead with two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.
With one out, Bowen’s long drive cleared the “Tradition of Excellence” billboard in left field. Wallner followed with a single to right field, stole second base and scored on LeBlanc’s double into no man’s land near the foul line in short left field to give Southern Miss a 3-1 lead.
Ole Miss tied the game in the seventh off Southern Miss reliever Brant Blaylock.
Pinch-hitter Josh Hall led off the inning with a walk and then stole second. Grae Kessinger’s double into the left-center field gap scored Hall.
Tyler Keenan followed with another flyball into the gap that Southern Miss left fielder Gabe Montenegro misplayed into a two-base error, allowing Kessinger to come around and tied the game.
But Southern Miss, again, answered immediately.
After a nine-pitch at-bat, LeBlanc singled to right field. He then stole second and scored on Lynch’s single into right-center field to give the Golden Eagles a 4-3 lead.
Wallner then capped the night with his second solo shot of the game and his 14th of the season and 49th of his career, which is one behind Jeff Cook (2000-03) for a second-place tie on the school’s career chart.
Wallner finished his night with three hits, three runs scored and two driven in.
Keys (2-1) entered the game in the top of the seventh inning with two Ole Miss runs in and a runner on second, but he struck out the next two hitters to close the inning before working a 1-2-3 eighth inning.
In the ninth, shortstop Will McGillis had a grounder slide under his glove into center field. But Keys shrugged off the error and struck out the next three Ole Miss batters to lock down the victory.
“He made that error, but I told him, ‘I’ve got you,’” Keys said.
Max Cioffi (1-2), the third of six Rebel pitchers, took the loss after facing two batters and allowing two hits and a run.