Baseball Opening Week: Southern Miss sweeps North Alabama

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(Photos/Sean Smith)

Sunday (Game 3) Dima Mixon:

Hurston Waldrep’s eleven strikeouts fueled Southern Miss to complete the season-opening sweep against North Alabama with a 14-1 victory.

“Adrenaline’s crazy watching this crowd- it is a childhood dream of mine to come out here and pitch and play,” Waldrep said.

Waldrep’s line on the day boasted 5.1 IP, three hits, one run allowed, a career-high 11 strikeouts and 75 pitches. North Alabama only managed to get a single hit on Waldrep throughout the first four innings. 

“We have seen it in the fall, we saw it in the spring, preseason, and [we’re] just glad to see it carrying over into today,” Head Coach Scott Berry said about Waldrep. 

Waldrep started the day consistently throwing a 98 mph fastball but naturally slowed as the game wore on. Berry commented he had “not” seen a pitcher throw that fast in his tenure at Southern Miss. 

On the offensive side of the ball, there was no slowing down the Golden Eagles. Blake Johnson and Slade Wilks combined to drive in nine runs. 

After struggling in the first two games, Wilks got the day started with an RBI triple, which went down as his first hit of the season. Wilks tallied a two-run RBI double and an RBI single. 

“I told myself today is a new day and just to have my mind right. I told myself to just put my foot down and swing, and everything else will cover itself. The offense is really deep and scary for other teams looking forward to playing us,” Wilks said. “We have our starters, then we got guys coming off the bench. It is really, really good.”

Throughout the first two games, the top of the lineup generated most of the production, whereas nine of the fourteen runs scored were by the bottom of the lineup in this game.

 The Golden Eagles finished the game with 12 hits, with six going to Johnson and Wilks. Southern Miss outscored North Alabama 29-5 in the series.

“You know our leadership from these guys; they played together last year and struggled early. They figured it out there late. I just feel like that momentum has carried us into this, and they are a year older or a year smarter.” Berry said. “They communicate well about the game of baseball; we have to learn to concentrate and learn to play all the areas well.”

Saturday (Game 2):

Southern Miss defeated North Alabama 7-3 Saturday in the second game of their three-game series. 

“[I’m] really proud of our guys to come out in the second game, win the series and certainly, [we] don’t want to fall in the trap of just being satisfied with that. We have a chance to do something special…sweep the series and that’s there’s a lot of hard work that goes into that,”  Head Coach Scott Berry said.

The Golden Eagles started off the game on the offensive side with an RBI single from Christopher Sargent to take a 1-0 lead. 

In the second and the third inning, Southern Miss scored a combined five runs on six hits. Gabe Montenegro had a two-run single on one of those hits, increasing the score to 3-0. 

Everything was going right for the Golden Eagles, but in the fourth inning, they committed four errors, leading to North Alabama scoring two runs.

Southern Miss went scoreless for three innings until the eighth, where they added one run. 

Hunter Riggins started on the mound for the Golden Eagles. Riggins went six innings and finished the game with five strikeouts, three hits, two runs and one walk with 74 pitches. 

Riggins collected his first win of the season and the bullpen went to work and finished the game out. 

Drew Boyd came in to relieve Riggins and had a good outing, pitching out of some jams, despite giving up an earned run. 

Tanner Hall came into the ninth inning and solidified the win for the Golden Eagles. 

Southern Miss moves to 2-0, while North Alabama moves on to 0-2. Their last game of the series against North Alabama is Sunday at 1.

Friday (Game 1):

Southern Miss Baseball started its anticipated season in the win column with an 8-1 victory against the North Alabama Lions. 

With a crowd of 4,449 fans in attendance at Pete Taylor Park,  The Golden Eagles utilized that home advantage and played strong throughout the game.

Ben Ethridge was the opening day starter on the mound for Southern Miss. Ethridge played six innings and finished the game with six strikeouts, four hits, and one unearned run on 79 pitches. With the performance, Ethridge earns his first win of the season.

“[I’m] real proud with our guys and how they came out. [Ben] Ethridge set the tone on the mound by covering six innings,” Head Coach Scott Berry said. “He didn’t have his best stuff, but like I told him, he really had to pitch and that’s what he did.”

The Golden Eagles came out the gates hot by scoring three runs in the first inning. Gabe Montenegro hit a single on the first pitch, continuing his hitting streak from last season, extending it to 10 games.

 Later in the inning, Dustin Dickerson, Christopher Sargent and Reece Ewing provided the three runs.

Southern Miss did have a cold stretch through three innings, leaving runners on base and not capitalizing, the Golden Eagles put the game away by scoring four runs in the eighth inning.

Tyler Stuart collected the save for the game and his first save of the season. Stuart finished the game with six strikeouts, four hits and no runs.