Southern Miss vs. FAU series updates: Southern Miss suffers first conference loss of season


Southern Miss (13-7, 2-1 Conference USA) started out conference play with two victories over FAU but fell in the final match against the Owls.

Game Three:

The Golden Eagles could not finish the sweep, falling to a fierce late push by Florida Atlantic.

After holding a 2-1 lead since the fourth, FAU notched five runs in the eighth inning to hand Southern Miss its first conference loss of the season.

“We are 2-3 on Sundays,” Berry said. “We need to learn how to win there. More importantly, we have had two opportunities on Sundays now to sweep on series and we just haven’t gotten the job outside of opening weekend against North Alabama.”

The Golden Eagles are now 2-3 on Sunday matchups, while 7-3 in Friday and Saturday series matches. The team’s success is most apparent in its midweek matches with a 4-1 record.

Southern Miss got off to a strong start, though, catapulted by a solo home run in the second by Carson Paetow and then another solo home run from Will McGillis in the fourth.

Starting pitcher Hurston Waldrep limited the Owls to one run through over five innings, striking out 11 batters and allowing five hits and one walk.

After Waldrep, Southern Miss struggled in the bullpen, switching six pitchers and allowing nine hits through the remaining four frames.

Ben Ethridge (1-3) earned his third loss of the season after allowing two hits and two runs in a little more of an inning played.

Game Two:

Southern Miss found itself trailing by multiple runs to FAU for the second game in the row but again rallied and came out on top 6-4.

“It’s just staying the course of the game and trying to compete for every inning and not giving any up.” Head Coach Scott Berry said.

Reece Ewing started the scoring in the bottom of the fourth inning. It would be Ewing’s fifth home run on the season, giving Southern Miss a 1-0 advantage. 

Florida Atlantic then responded with two quick base hits and Nolan Schanuel smacked a three-run homer to right field to give the Owls a 3-1 advantage.

Florida Atlantic added another run in the top of the sixth, with an RBI double by Gabriel Ricones Jr.

Southern Miss responded in the bottom of the sixth with two runs of their own thanks to an RBI single by Dustin Dickerson and an RBI groundout by Christopher Sargent. That pulled the Golden Eagles within 4-3.

Southern Miss pressured the Owls in the bottom of the seventh. After Will McGillis reached on an FAU error and Carson Paetow singled, Rodrigo Montenegro sac-bunted and pushed both runners in scoring position.

“He doesn’t get called upon to do a lot of, you know, we had just routine groundballs and scoring runs,” Berry said. “But it was just situational baseball that kept us in the game today.”

Gabe Montenegro got an RBI groundout to tie the game at 4 in the bottom of the seventh. Southern Miss took the lead for good in the seventh as a wild pitch scored Paetow from third.

The Golden Eagles scored a security run in the bottom of the eighth when the Owls walked Montenegro with the bases loaded.

Game One:

Danny Lynch has not had many extra-base hits this year; in fact, he has only one other one the entire season, which was a home run against Alabama. He picked a convenient time to get his second one with a walk-off home run that drove two runs to secure a game one victory over Florida Atlantic in the conference opener. 

“He threw me a changeup in the dirt, and I took it, and I knew he wasn’t going to walk me because we already had Sarge on first,” Lynch said. “I knew he was gonna come with the fastball next.”

The play secured the 12th win for the Golden Eagles, who improved to a 12-6 record and 1-0 slate in conference play. 

Lynch said he knew the ball was gone as soon as it came off the bat. Lynch finished the game going 2-4 with two RBIs, both on the game-winning home run.

“He has the ability to do that. This one was a walk-off, but it couldn’t have come at a better and bigger time.” Head Coach Scott Berry said.

The game started rocky for the Golden Eagles, as their best pitcher by far all season Tanner Hall, struggled to get it going early. The Owls scored two runs in the top of the first and one more in the top of the third to take a 3-0 advantage.

“This team is a good team, and the way their lefties are crowding the plate, the umpire taking away that inner half a little bit, it was definitely a tougher night to pitch,” Hall said. “Danny came up to me and told me, ‘hey man, it happens, it’s not a big deal just go out and do your thing,’  [and] I went back out and started rolling a little.”

Hall then sat down 13 of the next 14 batters he faced after the first inning.

Southern Miss trailed by three in the bottom of the third and used a batting around inning to take the lead back after plating five runs in the third. That was the most runs scored in a single inning for the Golden Eagles all season.

“Our guys competed, and their guy on the mound made quality pitches; the ball found places where it was tough for them to make those plays,” Berry said.

Florida Atlantic tied the game in the sixth inning, to which Southern Miss responded in the seventh inning by reclaiming the lead after an RBI single by Carson Paetow and then an unearned run thanks to an error by the Owls.

Southern Miss led 7-5 going into the ninth inning and got the Owls down to their final out.

 The Owls responded with three straight hits to tie the game at seven. Then Lynch saved the day with his walk-off homer.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys and how they just fought and competed all the way to the end,” Berry said.

What’s Next:

The Golden Eagles’ next conference matchup is on the road as they take on the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The Hilltoppers are sub .500 on the season (9-10 as of March 21, 2022) and 1-2 in conference play after a series loss to Charlotte.

Southern Miss won four of its five matches against Western Kentucky last season, including an 11-1 win in the C-USA tournament.