CLICK THE VIDEO ABOVE FOR A POSTGAME RECAP FROM WJTV’S JESSE FINVER
BILOXI, Miss. (C-USA) — The situation looked fairly grim forSouthern Miss going into the bottom of the seventh inning Thursday afternoon in the opening round of The First 2019 C-USA Baseball Championship presented byAir Force Reserve.
Rice had just tacked on another run in the top of theseventh inning, taking a 4-0 lead, a tall order to overcome for a flock ofGolden Eagles who had managed just one hit up to that point.
Even after Southern Miss scored a run on three hits inthe bottom of the seventh inning and knocked out Rice starter Matt Canterino,the Golden Eagles entered t heir final at-bats down three runs.
Highlighted by Storme Cooper’s two run double, SouthernMiss scored three runs with two outs to tie the game before Matt Wallner lineda two-run home run over the right-field fence, completing an improbablefive-run rally over the final two innings Wednesday night as Southern Misswalked off a 6-4 victory.
“I was looking for a pitch up and I was fortunate enoughto get that fast ball up, actually the second one, I got a barrel to it and wasable to get it out,” Wallner said of Southern Miss’ fifth walkoff hit of theseason. “We fought back and we needed some clutch hits.”
Cooper, who had compiled only five hits this season, senta sharp grounder inside the first base bag to spark the game-tying rally.
“The game of baseball is a game of opportunity,” SouthernMiss coach Scott Berry said. “Stormy has been sitting over there, and seeing alot more than playing.
“For him, to come up with an opportunity right there anddeliver like he did, you can’t say enough about that senior.”
Matthew Guidry walked to lead off the 10th inning, andone out later, Wallner lashed his 20th home run of the season onto the grassyhill behind the right-field fence.
Wallner became the first Golden Eagle in four consecutivegames since B.A Vollmuth turned the trick in 2010.
Cody Carroll (3-2) picked up the pitching win, allowingjust one hit in three scoreless innings. He walked one and struck out two.
Cateniro, the C-USA Pitcher of the Year, went 6 1/3,allowing one run on three hits. He walked two and struck out nine. Reliever KelBordwine gave up two runs in a third of an inning.
Rice had built its lead on Andrew Dunlap’s sacrifice flyin the first inning, a two-run home run by Trie Cruz in the third inning andBradley Gneiting’s double in the seventh inning.
Leadoff man Barden Comeaux finished with three hits andthree runs scored.