In the top of the seventh inning, Ben Ethridge had a chance for baseball’s hardest accomplishment – the perfect game. Ethridge retired the first 16 batters he faced on Sunday, but with one out Missouri State broke up the impossible feat with an infield single.
Despite missing out on the accomplished, Ethridge’s start illustrated another dominant performance for Southern Miss’ pitching staff as the Golden Eagles closed the weekend with a 3-1 win over the Bears.
“I was aware of (the perfect game),” Ethridge said. “I was just trying to keep it out of my mind and not think about it.
“Everybody wants to get a perfect game, but whatever happens, you’ve got to keep going. It’s the best feeling in the world, to get in a groove and feel like nobody can hit me.”
In the entire weekend, Southern Miss allowed two runs off six hits to Missouri State and kept the Bears scoreless for 16 consecutive innings between Friday and Sunday’s games. The Golden Eagles’ starting pitchers’ combined to throw 22 innings and used only six arms out of the bullpen on the weekend.
“When you have your offense not scoring a lot of runs and you have your pitching backing them up, throwing up a lot of zeros, it’s how we’ve been able to win,” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said.
For Ethridge, who threw seven innings, he struck out six batters and allowed one run off two hits. Ethirdge’s only mistake of the day was a solo home run in the seventh inning.
“He didn’t get deep into too many counts at all,” Berry said. “He put his hand down on their throat and wouldn’t back off from it. Going out and getting first-pitch strikes and getting ahead was big for us.”
Tyler Stuart relieved Ethridge in the eighth and retired the Bears in order. Closer Garratt Ramsey took the mound in the ninth inning and while he put two runners on base with one out, he managed to seal the win with back-to-back ground outs and record his sixth save of the season.
Offensively, Southern Miss got on the board early in the first inning with Reed Trimble scoring a run on an RBI triple. Charlie Fischer then drove in Trimble on a ground out to take a 2-0 lead.
“Today, we were able to get ahead early, and I’m proud of the way we competed,” Berry said. “I thought we played a complete game today, and really, we did all weekend.”
In the third inning, Trimble tacked on the Golden Eagles’ final run with an RBI sac fly.
“Certainly, we’ve pitched very, very well,” Berry said. “Defensively, for the most part, we’ve played pretty good defense. Offensively, we know the struggle is there. But we will continue to work on that, and I think we’ll get better as the season goes along.”
Southern Miss will travel to Tuscaloosa and face Alabama on Tuesday with first pitch set for 6 p.m.