For the first time of the 2021 season, Southern Miss dropped its first weekend series to Louisiana Tech after falling short in an 8-7 slugfest on Sunday.
The biggest difference in the game was the Bulldogs' ability to capitalize on their opportunities.
The Bulldogs stranded eight baserunners and took advantage of innings for when their leadoff hitter reached base, which occurred in all four of the innings they scored runs. Southern Miss left 12 runners on base despite totaling 11 hits and drawing seven walks.
Louisiana Tech put 13 hits and drew two walks.
"At the end of the day, we didn't play well enough to beat a very good La Tech team," Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. "The shame of it is that we had opportunities today, (but) we just didn't take care of it defensively.
"We just didn't get the stops coming out of the bullpen that we have been getting all year long. When you look at the whole series, we are 1-3 and could have easily been 3-1 had we won Friday night with opportunities and then today if we had taken care of business."
The Golden Eagles jumped out to a 4-0 lead over its conference rival to start the game. In the first inning, Charlie Fischer and Will McGillis delivered RBI singles, and then in the second, Reed Trimble hit an RBI single and then scored on a fielding error.
On the mound, Oak Grove alum Drew Boyd gave Southern Miss (14-9, 1-3) a strong start as he scattered seven hits despite allowing three runs, with two being earned in five complete innings.
"He is a guy that we had seen all fall carve our guys up," Berry said. "We have seen it through some of his outings this spring. He's just a young man that uses both sides of the plate with his fastball, changeup and breaking ball. He just keeps hitters off balance. He was really a good match for those guys. Those guys are veteran guys, and they like hard stuff."
Louisiana Tech (17-6, 4-1) scored a run in the third inning off an RBI single. However, the Bulldogs came up big with two back-to-back three-run innings in the sixth and seventh.
Boyd was pulled after two LA Tech runners reached base to start the inning. Freshman Tanner Hall was called from the bullpen but failed to minimize the damage as he gave up an RBI single and allowed two more runs to score on fielders' choices and tied the game 4-4.
In the seventh, Hall gave up two singles to start the inning, which led to Southern Miss making an early call for their closer, Garrett Ramsey. Ramsey also struggled to stop any damage as he gave up an RBI double, an RBI sac fly with another run scoring on a passed ball to give the Bulldogs a 7-4 lead.
Ramsey, who took the loss, walked two batters and allowed two runs off one hit. According to Berry, making the call for Ramsey dated back to when the team had Nick Sandlin and weren't able to put their best pitcher on the mound.
"We had talked about it before the game that we may not ever see (Ramsey) if we don't use him earlier," Berry said. "That's what we used to do with (Nick Sandlin) in his sophomore year. There were too many times that we get to the end of the game and never got to see Sandlin. We learned that if we have to use him earlier to try and bridge that and maybe score some more runs and steal some outs.
"The thinking was he hadn't been out there, and he had been pitching really good for us all year. We were hoping that he could keep them under wrap. Tech is a good and a good offense. Maybe he wasn't comfortable in that, but it was our best option."
The Golden Eagles responded and tied the game with Sumrall alum Billy Garrity hit an RBI sac fly and then McGillis scoring on a wild pitch. Trimble, who was 3-for-5, then added another run from an RBI single.
Despite the late rally, Louisiana Tech continued to capitalize on getting the leadoff runner on base. Ramsey started the eighth inning and hit the leadoff batter before being relieved. Ryan Och then surrendered an RBI single to give the Bulldogs the lead again.
"I think the storyline was LA Tech was able to get that leadoff hitter on for many innings," Berry said. "Whether it be a hit by pitch, walk or base hit. They were able to get those innings started with nobody out, and I think that was the key in scoring runs."
Southern Miss will return to action against UTSA in a four-game series. Thursday’s first pitch is set for 6 p.m.