Armistead pitches USM into Sun Belt championship baseball game

The University of Southern Mississippi eliminated Appalachian State University , 11-1, in seven...
The University of Southern Mississippi eliminated Appalachian State University , 11-1, in seven innings Saturday evening to reach Sunday's 1 p.m. championship baseball game(WMBF)
Published: May. 27, 2023 at 7:26 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WDAM) - Will Armistead stepped up when the University of Southern Mississippi baseball team needed him most, turning in a seven-inning complete game as the Golden Eagles bashed their way into Sunday’s Sun Belt Conference postseason championship.

Armistead checked Appalachian State University on an unearned run on four hits over seven innings at Riverwalk Stadium, as second-seeded USM (40-17) topped the sixth-seeded Mountaineers, 11-1, in a game shortened by the 10-run rule.

USM will meet fourth-seeded University of Louisiana-Lafayette (40-21) at 1 p.m. Sunday for the 2023 SBC title and an automatic berth into the National Collegiate Athletic Association postseason field.

Louisiana beat regular-season champion Coastal Carolina twice Saturday, 7-3 and 4-1, respectively, to advance from the other haf of the bracket and into Sunday’s spotlight.

The Golden Eagles’ bats awoke from a Saturday morning slumber, when they managed just five hits in a 4-2 loss to the Mountaineers (30-25) in the first semifinal game.

That win forced the teams to meet in a winner-take-all Saturday afternoon showdown.

It turned out to be a lopsided contest, as the Golden Eagles took advantage of an Appalachian State pitching staff running on fumes.

USM scored in each of the first three innings, building a 7-1 lead, then added two runs apiece in the seventh and eighth innings to end matters early.

The Golden Eagles cracked out 15 hits, including six doubles and a Slade Wilks’ home run.

Danny Lynch, Matthew Etzel, Carson Paetow and Christopher Sargent drove in two runs apiece. Etzel and Reece Ewing collected three hits each, while Paetow doubled twice.

Appalachian State starter Xander Hamilton (8-4) took the loss, allowing three runs on three hits, with two walks and strikeout.

Armistead (2-0) walked two and struck out three.

With the victory, USM posted its 40th win of the season and extended its string of 40-win seasons to seven in a row, not counting the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season.

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