Southern Miss falls to LSU in Baton Rouge Regional

By CAMAL PETRO,

BATON ROUGE – Southern Miss answered, but the LSU Tigers responded right back.

After Oak Grove native Matthew Guidry tied the game with a seventh-inning grand slam, the Tigers scored three runs in the eight to regain control of Saturday’s winner’s bracket game in the Baton Rouge Regional.

LSU added another in the ninth and held on for the 8-4 win over the Golden Eagles.

“We didn’t do enough to keep the momentum on our side, and LSU didn’t let the momentum get away from them very long,” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said.

Southern Miss will tangle with Arizona State at 2 p.m. Sunday, as the Sun Devils won the loser’s bracket game 13-5 over Stony Brook earlier in the day.

While the Golden Eagles’ offense sputtered offensively, LSU jumped up 4-0 through six innings. Southern Miss badly needed a timely hit, and Guidry delivered with his grand slam that tied the game 4-4 and silenced Alex Box Stadium.

“It was pretty low,” Guidry said of the 1-2 pitch. “The pitch before that made me look pretty silly. I got caught swinging through it. I just saw it better out of the hand the second time, and I was able to put a good swing on it.”

The Tigers, however, answered quickly.

They scored three runs in the eighth and one more in the ninth to put the game away, as Southern Miss used relievers Cody Carroll, Hunter Stanley and Brant Blaylock to try and put out the fire. All three gave up at least one run.

Southern Miss could have countered, but it only got one base runner in each of the final two innings. LSU used Zach Hess to close the door, as he pitched the final three innings with four strikeouts. He did allow the grand slam, but he finished off the game after allowing Southern Miss to tie it.

“He kind of struggled there a little bit early with his control, but he really started dotted that thing,” Berry said. “I think that momentum, when they hit us back with that three-spot, that gave him a boost of energy.”

The Southern Miss offense stranded nine runners in the contest, and it had four innings where at least two base runners reached and didn’t score prior to the four-run seventh.

Both Matt Wallner and Bryant Bowen reached scoring position in the second with one out, but neither could get home. In the fifth, Storme Cooper doubled and Gabe Montenegro walked with two outs, but they were left stranded. It was the same story in the sixth, too, when Wallner and Bowen were again left on base.

Early in the game, Southern Miss’ Walker Powell pitched well enough to put Southern Miss in position to win Saturday, but the bats couldn’t string together enough hits to match the right-hander.

The Tigers hit Powell, but the 6-foot-7 pitcher worked out of jams throughout the night. A solo home run in the second gave the Tigers the lead, then they chased Powell out of the game in the sixth inning.

“I felt good,” Powell said. “It was hot, obviously, and the fans were loud, but this team is used to that. I got a little tired there in the second and third inning. I think I was dehydrated, but not severely. For the most part, I felt good, but it didn’t come out the way we wanted it to.”

Powell allowed a man to reach base in every inning, but the Southern Miss defense rolled three double plays and Powell held LSU to just two hits with runners on base during his outing. The Tigers got a one-out single in the first, but a double play ended that quickly, then after the second-inning home run, they got another base runner in the third and two more in the fourth. However, double plays ended both of those threats.

Cade Beloso scored the game’s first run with his homer in the second, as the 0-1 offering was sent over the right field bleachers.

“That’s a good hitter who hit that home run,” Powell said. “I thought it was a good pitch. If he took it, it would have been a ball, so it’s where I wanted it. I knew I had to get back in there and keep attacking, so that’s what I tried to do.”

The Tigers added three more runs in the sixth, but one only was charged to Powell. The junior exited the game when Brandt Broussard led off the frame with a double then reached third on a groundout. A hit by pitch and a sacrifice fly later, Zach Watson’s two-run blast made it a 4-0 game.

Powell finished with two strikeouts and a walk during his 5.1-inning performance, and he allowed two earned runs off seven hits through 62 total pitches.

Southern Miss will go with Stevie Powers Sunday against Arizona State.

“It’s a survival game,” Berry said. “We have to win at all costs and live to see LSU against (Sunday) night.”