USM tops Louisiana, 6-2, Sunday to win SBC baseball crown, NCAA berth

USM tops Louisiana to win Sun Belt Conference championship
USM tops Louisiana to win Sun Belt Conference championship
Published: May. 28, 2023 at 4:06 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi baseball team presented its departing coach with another championship ring Sunday afternoon at Riverwalk Stadium.

The 16th-ranked Golden Eagles paired the long ball with yet another stellar pitching performance to top the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, 6-2, in the title game of the 2023 Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championship.

USM (41-17) not only won the SBC baseball championship in its first year in the league, but earned the conference’s automatic berth in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s 64-team postseason field.

The Golden Eagles were not chosen as one of the 16 host teams and will find out Monday where and who they play.

The NCAA Selection Show will be carried live on ESPN2/WATCHESPN, starting at 11 a.m.. The live bracket can be followed at

Louisiana (40-22) also will await word on whether it will receive an at-large bid into the field.

USM junior pitcher Tanner Hall, who twirled a three-hitter in USM’s tournament opening game, was named the SBC’s postseason Most Outstanding Player.

Senior first baseman Christopher Sargent, senior third baseman Danny Lynch and junior shortstop Dustin Dickerson were all named All-Tournament.

Dickerson, Lynch and Slade Wilks each hit home runs Sunday and Niko Mazza and Justin Storm combined on a six-hitter as USM coach Scott Berry saw the Golden Eagles win a fifth conference tournament title under his guidance.

Mazza and Storm (5-1) combined to strike out 13 Ragin’ Cajuns while walking just four.

Mazza went the first 3 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on three hits. He struck out five and walked two.

Storm finished the game, allowing no runs over 5 2/3 innings. He gave up three hits and walked two while striking out eight.

Dickerson’s solo homer in the bottom of the third inning put USM ahead, but Heath Hood slashed a two-run single up the middle in the top of the fourth inning to give the Ragin’ Cajuns a 2-1 lead.

It turned out to be Louisiana’s highwater mark Sunday.

The Golden Eagles tied the game on a second solo shot, this one from Lynch, in the bottom of the fourth inning, and the took the lead for good in the fifth inning on Dickerson’s single up the middle.

Wilks’ two-run shot to right field in the seventh inning gave the Golden Eagles some breathing room and Blake Johnson’s RBI-double in the bottom of the eighth inning wrapped up the scoring.

Lynch (home run, double), Dickerson (home run, single) and Sargent (two singles) each had two hits, while Dickerson and Wilks drove in two runs each.

USM junior center fielder Matthew Etzel walked and singled, coming around to score both times.

Brendan Moody (0-5), the second of UL-Lafayette’s five pitchers Sunday, took the loss, allowing a run on two hits in 1/3 of an inning.

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