Centerfielder Reed Trimble delivered the final blow in the Golden Eagles 6-3 extra-inning win over Louisiana-Lafayette on Sunday.
With bases loaded and Southern Miss trailing 3-2, Trimble was simply trying to put the ball in the air to tie the game. Instead, Trimble hit a walk-off grand slam to seal the Golden Eagles' weekend sweep over the Ragin Cajuns.
"I really just wanted to get to the next guy (in the lineup)," Trimble said. "I just wanted to put a good swing on the ball and get in two runs or one run. As soon as I hit it, I knew it was over his head, and I knew it was going to end the ball game. It just happened to go out of the park.
"I've never had something like that happen; a walk-off home run. You really don't think about much when you are running the bases. It's like you are flying. It was surreal. It was pretty awesome and something I'll never forget."
Trimble, who finished the game 3-for-6 with four RBI, missed on an earlier opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the ninth inning with runners at second and third base with two outs, but he flew out to end the threat.
"You look at his first and last at-bat," Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. "We talk about all the time that your last at-bat is the most important at-bat. It doesn't matter what you did, good, bad or indifferent. That's the one you need to focus on. A lot of times it comes up when you haven't had great at-bats."
Trimble's big swing was anything but expect as the COVID-freshman has had the hottest bat for the Golden Eagles since the start of the season. Trimble leads the team in almost every hitting category with 17 RBI, 15 hits and five home runs. For Berry, Trimble's start is not a surprise as he saw glimpses of the left-handed hitter's talent last season.
"If you look back at least year, he was hurt early on," Berry said. "He got hurt on a high ankle sprain and was out for several weeks. What I recall is that he had a very good night against Troy, the last game that we played on March 10. In his first at-bat in the game, he unloaded for a solo home run. He showed everybody and me what he is capable of doing. He continues to show that each time that he plays. He's a really talented player. His abilities have a high-ceiling."
While extra innings had their fair share of excitement, the first nine innings were mostly a battle between both teams' pitching staff.
Southern Miss got on the board in the first inning with an RBI single from Charlie Fischer that scored Trimble to give the Golden Eagles a 1-0 lead.
Starter Ben Ethridge kept the Ragin Cajuns off the board for the first five innings of the game. UL's first run of the game scored in the sixth inning, which was set up by a throwing error that scored later on a fielder's choice. Ethridge finished his outing with nine strikeouts and allowed one run off four hits.
"Today, unlike the past two weekends, I felt like I had every pitch that I needed," Ethridge said. "I know a lot of the early swing and misses were with my curveball or slider. This led to me being able to get a fastball by them more mixed up with a changeup, then come back with a slider and strike them out to keep them off balance.
"I tell everybody that I just want to have fun and keep doing what I'm doing. I was trying not to let anything get under my skin. Whenever it's going good, it's easy to keep going out there and keep rolling."
Both Ethridge and Berry credited Southern Miss' bullpen for saving Sunday's win. Reliever's Tyler Stuart, Ryan Och and Tanner Hall combined to throw 4.2 innings and struck out six batters while giving up just four hits.
"I think the key today was our pitching staff," Berry said. "Ben Ethridge, Och, Stewart and Hall were able to pitch out of somethings and pitch around somethings, especially in the extra innings. Our guys were able to keep the game in check and give us a chance to win late."
At the same time, while Ethridge and the rest of the USM staff were crucial in the win, UL felt the effects of having to go to the bullpen eight times in the first two games of the series. The Ragin Cajuns went to the pen six more times in Sunday's game but were able to strand 12 Southern Miss baserunners.
"You are trying to get into somebody's bullpen, so you can wear it down so that over the course of the next two games," Berry said. "Guys are tired since you've seen them on Friday night. That's exactly what we were able to do with Lafayette. I felt like that they didn't want to go to their pen. I felt like they had three really good starters, especially Friday and Saturday, that had a really good number. We were able to get into their pen.
"We did a great job of getting into their pen. We didn't score a lot of runs. But sometimes, you win games when you don't score runs. There's a lot that makes up for the body of the win. I think that's what you saw out of our offense. They really grinded it out."
Southern Miss will travel and play South Alabama on Tuesday, with first pitch set for 6:30 p.m.