HATTIESBURG – Southern Miss’ Bryant Bowen could do no wrong Saturday in a doubleheader against Marshall.
The junior hit a walk-off in the first game of the twin bill, then he went 4-for-4 with four RBI, including the game-tying RBI, and three runs scored in the second game to help Southern Miss complete the sweep of the Marshall Thundering Herd. After Friday night’s 10-3 win, the Golden Eagles won the two Saturday contests 4-3 and 11-10.
“He was very special,” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said of Bowen.
The Golden Eagles are now 20-9 overall and 10-2 in Conference USA play.
Bowen’s game-winning hit in the first game was set up by Gabe Montenegro, who led off the ninth with a deep shot to center. After the sophomore tripled, Marshall intentionally walked Matthew Guidry and Hunter Slater in consecutive at-bats to set up the walk-off opportunity for Bowen. With the infield in, and after going 0-for-3 to start the game, Bowen sent his shot through the left side to bring home the game-winning run.
“It’s funny because (assistant coach) BA (Vollmuth) said, ‘sit on a breaker here,’” Bowen said. “Six of his last seven were breakers, and he missed really wide. I kind of abandoned the approach and went back to the fastball. He left it up and I was able to handle it.”
In the second game, things looked promising for the Golden Eagles. Bowen got things started with an RBI single in the first inning, then Matt Wallner blasted his 40th career home run, which is tied for seventh in school history, to score two more.
“You can go from those emotions from the game before, take it into the next one and roll,” Bowen said of Southern Miss’ quick start.
Holding the 3-1 lead, Marshall got a run back in the third before Southern Miss plated two more runs. Hunter LeBlanc recorded an RBI on a groundout, and Danny Lynch’s single to center scored one more run to push Southern Miss’ advantage to 5-2.
Things started to unravel in the sixth inning, however. Two Southern Miss pitchers combined for six earned runs without even earning an out in the inning, as Marshall plated seven total runs to take a 10-5 lead. Marshall got those seven runs on four hits and four walks, too, and there was also a wild pitch that scored a run.
Southern Miss battled back to the bottom half of the inning, though, as Bowen notched his fifth home run of the season. After Hunter Slater doubled to score Montenegro, Bowen’s 2-2 blast hit the top of the scoreboard in left field at Pete Taylor Park to cut Marshall’s lead to 10-7.
He knew he got it immediately, too.
“The guy threw me five breakers and he finally hung one,” Bowen said. “I was able to get it and it got us going. Really, I have to give a lot of credit to Gabe for leading it off and Slater bringing him in. It was a rally of the troops right there.”
“I quit looking. I knew I got it.”
Bowen wasn’t done either. With Southern Miss trailing 10-8 in the seventh, he collected his fourth and final RBI to tie the game. Cole Donaldson pinch ran for Bowen, then on a double steal, he stayed in a pickle long enough to allow Slater to score the go-ahead run.
“I was very pleased, especially coming off with a tough Tuesday night loss,” Berry said. “It was basically a circus with the way we played (Tuesday). It wasn’t characteristic of the way we play. To be able to move on to the next opportunity (Friday) and win that, come out in the first game today, win the series and not be satisfied and go ahead and sweep it, that’s probably my biggest take-a-way.”
After a six-error night Tuesday against South Alabama, Southern Miss didn’t commit a single error in the series sweep of Marshall.