Mississippi State rallies late, beats No. 25 Southern Miss at Trustmark Park in a midweek classic
PEARL, Miss. (WLBT) - Southern Miss and Mississippi State baseball battled it out for the 129th time, this time under the lights at the Mississippi Braves’ home stadium - Trustmark Park - Tuesday night in a midweek game for the ages.
Coming off a weekend series against Illinois when the Southern Miss bullpen gave up 25 of the 35 runs allowed in the three-game series, the young and largely untested Golden Eagles bullpen sputtered while the Bulldogs scored timely runs late in the ballgame.
“[We were] pretty sloppy on the mound... Our guys competed, but it just wasn’t enough to get it done,” Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry said. “We have to figure what pieces we have that we can use, but [the bullpen] is definitely concerning right now.”
Both starting pitchers survived a shaky start in the first inning. The second inning, however, proved to be costly for both squads, which sparked a high-scoring affair and both coaches having to lean on their bullpen early in the two teams’ first game away from home in the 2023 season.
The No. 25 ranked Golden Eagles recorded the first hit of the game as designated hitter Rodrigo Montenegro hit a single to shallow left-center field in the top of the second inning. A throwing error from the Bulldogs’ first baseman Luke Hancock to second baseman Amani Larry resulted in two runs scored for the Golden Eagles as Montenegro and third baseman Danny Lynch crossed the plate.
The early 2-0 lead didn’t last long for Southern Miss as Mississippi State responded with five runs of their own. Martin left the bases loaded when he left the game after lasting 1.1 innings.
Freshman pitcher Nick Monistere was called into action, and his inexperience showed after he walked the first batter he faced and allowed back-to-back hits from Colton Ledbetter and Dakota Jordan, which gave Mississippi State a 5-2 lead after two innings.
After a scoreless third inning for both teams, the Golden Eagles scored twice and Bulldogs crossed home plate again as Mississippi State junior second baseman Amani Larry hit a rocket over the center field wall to give the Bulldogs a 6-4 lead after four innings.
A double from Montenegro and freshman Creek Robertson, along with a fielder’s choice gave Southern Miss an 8-6 lead in the top of the fifth inning.
Mississippi State looked down and out as the Golden Eagles leaned on the experienced pitcher Justin Storm and freshman arm Kros Sivley put together three scoreless innings. However, an eight-inning rally from the Bulldogs put Mississippi State ahead 10-9 after Storm left the game with the bases loaded and was replaced by freshman Southern Miss pitcher JB Middleton.
The Bulldogs scored four runs with Middleton in the game from a wild pitch, two sacrifice flies, and a single while the young right-handed pitcher was on the mound and ultimately win after sophomore pitcher Nate Dohm closed out the game by striking out two Southern Miss batters and forcing a fly ball to clinch a 10-9 win.
“We’re not perfect right now,” Mississippi State head coach Chris Lemonis said when asked about the win. “We’re walking too many [batters]; we’re making some errors. But they’re competing. As we grow as a team, hopefully, we clean some of that stuff up.”
Mississippi State won despite committing three errors and walking eleven batters. They improve to 6-3 on the season.
Bulldogs’ shortstop Lane Foyrsthe went 2-3 at the plate and second baseman Larry’s home run ultimately decided the contest.
The Southern Miss pitching staff walked eight batters and the bullpen gave up nine more runs to opponents. The Golden Eagles drop to 5-3 early in the season.
Robertson went 1-1 at the plate and reached a base four times Tuesday night and Montenegro was 2-5 in the batter’s box.
Southern Miss will host Dallas Baptist University this weekend in Hattiesburg at Pete Taylor Park in a three-game series.
The Bulldogs will compete in the Frisco College Baseball Classic this weekend in Texas.
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