In the bottom of the eighth inning, Southern Miss faced a bases-loaded situation with one out. It was a situation that the Golden Eagles had struggled with early on the season.
Heading into the bottom of the ninth, Hinds CC transfer Garrett Ramsey struck out the side to make his debut for Southern Miss and seal the Golden Eagles’ 6-5 win over Connecticut.
“I honestly kind of blacked out there at the end,” Ramsey said. “As soon as he swung that bat, I knew it was over from there. I can’t even describe that feeling.
“(Pitching coach Christian Ostrander) had been talking to me all throughout the week saying that it was going to come.”
Ramsey kept the status quo of the Golden Eagles’ elite pitching as they added 14 more strikeouts to its season total of now 70. According to Ramsey, his slider was key to his success on the mound.
“The slider was working,” Ramsey said. “It was nice being able to lay a fastball in there for a strike and come back with that slider. I was just trying to keep some pitches low and laying the fastball low. I knew if I threw my slider like I usually do, it’s not really a pitch you can get around unless you know it’s coming.”
Leading up to Ramsey’s success, Gabe Montenegro, who faced a 1-2 count with bases loaded and one out, doubled down the right field line knocking in the go-ahead run.
“I knew (the pitcher) had a pretty good slider,” said Montenegro, who was 2-for-5. “I was trying to look for something in. If he threw the slider away, I was never going to reach for it. That pitch was exactly it. It was a slider in. It was what I was looking for, and I was able to hit it.”
While the Golden Eagles looked to put together a complete game to earn the win, the start of the game illustrated anything but a strong ending. In the first inning, UCONN got on the board with an RBI sac fly to take a 1-0 lead.
Montenegro then tied the game with a solo home run.
“His first at-bat and his last at-bat were two special at-bats,” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. “All I could think about there in his last at-bat was 2019 in LSU against Arizona State, which was a walk-off. It was a big situation and a big moment in the game, and I knew he had been there before many times. What a great at-bat with two strikes, and he yanks that double down the line.”
The Huskies hitting continued to cause starter Hunter Stanley problems in the third inning as UCONN hits two solo home runs in the inning to extend their lead to 3-1.
Stanley managed to strike out nine batters despite allowing five runs off nine hits.
“I was very proud of him for being able to minimize that and not letting people get on before that, because there could have been a big deficit that we would have tried to make up,” Berry said. “I thought he pitched really well against a very good offensive club that UCONN has. They are just really scrappy and strong.”
According to Montenegro, with UCONN having success against Stanley, Berry stressed the lineup need to find success in the batter’s box.
“Coach (talked to us about stepping up) and trying to get something going,” Montenegro said. “Really (just to) find any way possible to get on base and keep the lineup going, especially after the game against South Alabama. Coming in, we knew that the UCONN pitcher was pretty good. Our approach was to make him throw pitches and get him out of the game as quick as possible. We just wanted to get something going and help out the pitching.”
The Huskies’ starting pitcher Ben Casparius totaled 102 pitches in seven innings as he allowed four runs off five hits, walked five and struck out seven.
Southern Miss managed to shed its hitting woes with Reed Trimble hitting an RBI double and Chris Sargent following with a two-run double to give the Golden Eagles a 5-3 lead.
UCONN tied the game after hitting their third solo home run of the game in the sixth inning, and an RBI sac fly in the seventh inning, which set up Montenegro’s critical at-bat in the eighth.