Freshmen arms help Southern Miss sweep Murray State with 8-7 win

By ANDREW ABADIE,

Like most of the weekend, pitching played a key role in helping Southern Miss earn its victories. Sunday’s 8-7 win was no different except the Golden Eagles relied on their freshmen relief pitchers to come away the win.

 

In in final inning, freshman pitcher Isaiah Rhodes looked to put the game and series away for Southern Miss. However, Rhodes gave up a solo home run that cut Murray State’s deficit to one run, but Rhodes held on and sealed the win for Southern Miss. 

 

“You’re disappointed whenever somebody hits a ball like that,” Rhodes said. “I’ve been mentally preparing. This is the next level and I know it’s going to happen and I’m not going to let it bring me down when something like that happens.” 

 

In three innings, the side-armed Rhodes allowed one run from just the one hit and struck out two batters. 

 

“I was anxious but a good anxious,” Rhodes said. “I was excited to pitch, and I wanted the ball. I got my opportunity and I wanted to throw strikes. My stuff moves so I wanted to throw a lot of strikes and make these guys roll over. I gave up a big hit, but I knew if I kept throwing strikes, they’ll keep missing the ball, making mistakes and rolling over.” 

 

At the start of the game however, the freshman pitcher Chandler Best had a tough start.

Best however, struggled early on and allowed three runs to score in two innings outing which put the Golden Eagles in a 2-0 hole by the second inning. 

 

From there, freshman pitcher Matt Adams stepped in and held the Racers scoreless until the sixth inning. 

 

“Matt Adams came in and really gave us a shot in the arm with his outing there,” Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry said. “[He] gave up the hit that gave up the one run that was Chandlers. After that he soaked up some innings which is really nice for a freshman to do.” 

 

Behind Adams, the Golden Eagle bats found life and retook the lead at 4-3 by the end of the third inning. 

 

Adams fell into trouble into minor trouble the sixth inning and was pulled after a runner reached base on an error. Sean Tweedy then took the mound and gave up a three-run frame which allowed Murray State to take a 6-4 lead. 

 

On the day, Adams allowed one earned run off one hit while striking out five and giving up a walk. 

 

But the bats again rallied behind Rhodes and took advantage of Murray State’s thinned out pitching staff as it loaded the bases. In the inning the Golden Eagles took a 7-6 lead after Charlie Fischer hit an RBI single, Gabe Montenegro knocked in a run from a sac fly and Danny Lynch scored after Dustin Dickerson was hit by a pitch.

 

In the eighth inning, Fischer added an insurance run from an RBI double that proved to secure Southern Miss’ lead and win. 

 

“I struggled a little bit to start the spring so I’m still getting a feel for everything,” Fischer said. “I’m just seeing pitches pretty well with all the work from Coach Creel, Coach Rhodes and coach berry I think got me ready for those moments. I just wanted to deliver for this team.” 

 

On the weekend, Fischer finished 7-for-10 with four RBI. 

 

“Charlie Fischer swung it well the whole weekend,” Berry said. “He was the guy that delivered the big blows for us. Very proud of how he handled that position of the order and how he contributed with those hits today.”

 

Gabe Montenegro also played a crucial role in the lineup despite suffering a hand injury in Saturday’s game. Montenegro finished the day 2-for-4 with two RBI. 

 

“They had some X-Rays yesterday and it was nothing,” Montenegro said. “There was no fracture just inflamed and bruised. I warmed up in the cages before the game and felt fine. I wanted to play.”

 

According to Montenegro, relying on the freshmen pitchers never created doubt on the day. 

 

“We have full confidence in them,” Montenegro said. “We have been watching them since the fall. They are great players and have been doing great throughout the fall and spring. They proved it.” 

 

Southern Miss has now swept opening weekend since 2015 which ironically was started against Murray State. 

 

“Well we are a team that’s in the learning process,” Berry said. “We are a young team mixed in with some older guys that are going to have to lead these younger guys and lead by example with how we play the game. whether you have success or failure. That’s going to be really important. It’s a fun team that really pays together.”

 

The Golden Eagles will host the University of New Orleans on Tuesday at 6 p.m. 

 

Like most of the weekend, pitching played a crucial role in helping Southern Miss earn its victories. Sunday's 8-7 win was no different except the Golden Eagles relied on their freshmen relief pitchers to come away with the win. 

In the ninth inning, freshman pitcher Isaiah Rhodes looked to put the game and series away for Southern Miss. However, Rhodes gave up a solo home run that cut Murray State's deficit to one run, but Rhodes held on and sealed the win for Southern Miss. 

"You're disappointed whenever somebody hits a ball like that," Rhodes said. "I've been mentally preparing. This is the next level and I know it's going to happen and I'm not going to let it bring me down when something like that happens." 

In three innings, the side-armed Rhodes allowed one run from just the one hit and struck out two batters. 

"I was anxious but a good anxious," Rhodes said. "I was excited to pitch, and I wanted the ball. I got my opportunity and I wanted to throw strikes. My stuff moves, so I wanted to throw a lot of strikes and make these guys rollover. I gave up a big hit, but I knew if I kept throwing strikes, they'd keep missing the ball, making mistakes and rolling over." 

At the start of the game, however, the freshman pitcher Chandler Best had a tough start. Best allowed three runs to score in two innings outing, which put the Golden Eagles in a 2-0 hole by the second inning. 

From there, freshman pitcher Matt Adams stepped in and held the Racers scoreless until the sixth inning. 

"Matt Adams came in and really gave us a shot in the arm with his outing there," Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry said. "[He] gave up the hit that gave up the one run that was Chandlers. After that, he soaked up some innings, which is really nice for a freshman to do." 

Behind Adams, the Golden Eagle bats found life and retook the lead at 4-3 by the end of the third inning. 

Adams fell into trouble into minor trouble the sixth inning and was pulled after a runner reached base on an error. Sean Tweedy then took the mound and gave up a three-run frame, which allowed Murray State to take a 6-4 lead. 

On the day, Adams allowed one earned run off one hit while striking out five and giving up a walk. 

But the bats again rallied behind Rhodes and took advantage of Murray State's thinned out pitching staff as it loaded the bases. In the inning the Golden Eagles took a 7-6 lead after Charlie Fischer hit an RBI single, Gabe Montenegro knocked in a run from a sac fly and Danny Lynch scored after Dustin Dickerson was hit by a pitch.

In the eighth inning, Fischer added an insurance run from an RBI double that proved to secure Southern Miss' lead and win. 

"I struggled a little bit to start the spring, so I'm still getting a feel for everything," Fischer said. "I'm just seeing pitches pretty well with all the work from Coach Creel, Coach Rhodes and coach Berry I think got me ready for those moments. I just wanted to deliver for this team." 

On the weekend, Fischer finished 7-for-10 with four RBI. 

"Charlie Fischer swung it well the whole weekend," Berry said. "He was the guy that delivered the big blows for us. Very proud of how he handled that position of the order and how he contributed with those hits today."

Gabe Montenegro also played a crucial role in the lineup despite suffering a hand injury in Saturday's game. Montenegro finished the day 2-for-4 with two RBI. 

"They had some X-Rays yesterday and it was nothing," Montenegro said. "There was no fracture, just inflamed and bruised. I warmed up in the cages before the game and felt fine. I wanted to play."

According to Montenegro, relying on the freshmen pitchers never created doubt on the day. 

"We have full confidence in them," Montenegro said. "We have been watching them since the fall. They are great players and have been doing great throughout the fall and spring. They proved it."

Southern Miss has now swept opening weekend since 2015, which ironically started against Murray State. 

"Well, we are a team that's in the learning process," Berry said. "We are a young team mixed in with some older guys that are going to have to lead these younger guys and lead by example with how we play the game whether you have success or failure. That's going to be really important. It's a fun team that really pays together."

The Golden Eagles will host the University of New Orleans on Tuesday at 6 p.m.