The Gradebook: Southern Miss walks-off against Illinois 14-13

Southern Miss snatched victory from the jaws of defeat numerous times in an incredible 14-13 victory over Illinois in extra innings. The game featured seven lead changes over its five hours and 17 minutes. Lovers of defense would have been better suited to sit this game out, but clutch hitting ruled the day for both squads. It truly is hard to grade a ridiculous game like this, but let’s give it a go.



This one was an easy one. The Golden Eagles trotted out nine different pitchers, and the ninth pitcher was the only one to come out unscathed. Nick Monistere entered in the 11th inning and worked around a two-out single before ending the frame with a three-pitch strikeout. The freshman pitcher allowed the 11th inning walk-off by the Golden Eagles.

Matthew Adams got the start for USM, and he allowed three earned runs over four innings of work. He certainly didn’t have a perfect game, but the bullpen allowed 10 runs in his absence. Panic mode didn’t set in until the ninth inning because the Golden Eagles jumped to an 8-3 lead after the fifth inning. Justin Storm pitched a clean eighth inning before coming back in the ninth to try to close the game out. Instead, he walked the first two batters of the inning without throwing a single strike. He was pulled, and Dustin Dickerson replaced him, making his first pitching appearance since May 2021. Dickerson struck out the first batter, but he allowed a go-ahead three-run home run in the next at-bat. 

Pitching just hasn’t been there for Southern Miss in this series. They’ve allowed a whopping 26 runs in the first two games of this series. This just isn’t something we’re accustomed to seeing with Southern Miss. For their standards or anyone else’s, the Golden Eagles get an easy F in pitching.



Hitting is a different story. It seemed like every time Southern Miss desperately needed a hit, they were able to capitalize. After the Golden Eagles scored five runs in the third inning, it looked like they may be able to coast into victory. That was certainly not the case. The Golden Eagles faced deficits in the ninth and 10th innings while breaking ties in the seventh and 11th innings. 

Danny Lynch and Dickerson were the heroes of the ninth with Lynch singling and Dickerson grounding into a fielder’s choice to each plate a run. Matthew Russo was an unlikely hero in the 10th, as he hit an RBI groundout in his pinch-hit at-bat. Then, Carson Paetow came up huge with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th with a single over the center fielder’s head to clinch the Golden Eagle victory. 

Southern Miss had 15 runs on the night, and every hitter who had multiple at-bats reached base. As bad as the pitching was, the hitting was equally as great.



This grade was slated to be much lower until Paetow made a diving snag in the top of the 11th to record the second out of the inning. Had Paetow misjudged the ball or not made the catch, it would have easily been a double – if not more. Sure, Paetow allowed an inside-the-park home run in the first inning after crashing on the wall, but he made up for it with his clutch hitting and fielding. Besides, you can hardly blame a fielder for not making a play when you crash shoulder first into the wall before bouncing your head off the turf. It was a testament to his toughness that he was able to remain in the game, frankly.

The lone error on the night for Southern Miss came on a throwing error in the sixth inning, allowing a run to score. This made it an 8-6 game, but the Golden Eagles recorded the next two outs to avoid a crisis because of Dickerson’s error. With the amount of chances the fielders had tonight, they certainly held their own.



The walk-off by Paetow nearly didn’t count. This was because multiple baserunners including Dickerson and Matthew Etzel failed to touch base, as they ran towards the celebration in right field. Since the bases were loaded, the runners had to touch base to avoid a force-out at any base. After the game, Berry credited hitting coach Travis Creel for telling Etzel to touch third, as it would have been an inning-ending double play after the chaos. For the lack of awareness by the rest of the team, points are deducted.