Southern Miss homers five times, completes sweep of Arkansas State.

Southern Miss baseball swept Arkansas State in the weekend set, here are all three game recaps by Dima Mixon.

Game 1

Tanner Hall looked a lot like an all-American tonight, posting a career-high 15 strikeouts in his outing tonight against Arkansas State. His performance, combined with an early explosion by the Eagle offense, led to a 12-1 dismantling of the Red Wolves. Hall did not have his best outing last week against Coastal Carolina, but tonight he showed off.

“It feels great. I had the changeup working, fastball was working off the changeup too. I guess that’s how it goes when everything is on. Especially when I’m filling up the zone, besides the second inning. But I felt really good today.” Hall said.

Tanner Hall and Rodrigo Montenegro after Hall strikes out the side (Dima Mixon)

Hall would tell you he has not looked in part this season like he looked at times last season. He showed USM fans tonight that it was still there, and Eagle fans will not complain if it starts to look a lot more like tonight.

“I thought he set the tone in the first inning. He had command, he had action on the ball, used both sides of the plate. He looked like the old Tanner Hall that we’ve seen in the past.” Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry said.

Tanner Hall dealing in the third (Dima Mixon)

For Hall, tonight he kept the Red Wolves to just three hits and two walks. He gave up one run and, as stated, posted 15 strikeouts. He first allowed a hit in the fifth inning.

“When you start getting offense like we did early in the game, it sure makes pitching a lot easier.” Berry said.

Early in the game, Southern Miss’s bats poured it on the Red Wolves and took firm control practically within the first three innings.

In the first, after a walk by Matthew Etzel and Dustin Dickerson got hit by a pitch, Slade Wilks continued his masterful season by getting an RBI single to get the party started for the home team.

Christopher Sargent, who has been coming along as of late, got himself a base-clearing triple. He was brought home by a Danny Lynch sac-fly RBI. Later in the inning, Reece Ewing came up with a double, and Rodrigo Montenegro knocked him in with an RBI single. This was all in the first inning, giving Southern Miss a 5-0 lead.

Wilks drive in his second run in the next inning with a sac-fly RBI. Dickerson scored an RBI single in the third, and Wilks followed him with a 404-foot home run, his seventeenth of the season. This made the score 10-0….in the third inning.

Slade Wilks drives in his 17th home run of the season. (Dima Mixon)


“It’s just consistency. I just try and stay consistent and get my swings off on good pitches. It feels good, and it helps me have a lot of confidence in there and know what I’m doing is working.” Wilks said.

It seems now, for Wilks, another day, another home run. With his 50 RBIs and 17 homers now, he is penciling himself in to be player of the year for Southern Miss at this point.

Slade Wilks right before he hit his 17th homer (Dima Mixon)

“I think the biggest thing is [his] experience and age. As you get older you get more experience, and you develop better.” Berry said how Wilks had become this dangerous this season.

After the 10-0 lead in the third, Southern Miss was able to push two more runs across throughout the rest of the game. One of those runs was thanks to an RBI single by freshman Bryce Fowler, his first career hit and RBI. Because of the lead, Berry was able to get in a lot of young guys.

Southern Miss improves to 26-15 and 12-7 in conference play. Coastal Carolina dropped a game against Louisiana, which makes Southern Miss a game back from the Chanticleers.

USM and Arkansas State play again at 12 PM tomorrow.

Game 2

Southern Miss homered twice, which propelled them to a 4-1 victory against Arkansas State, clinching the weekend series. Southern Miss has been homering a lot lately; it seems that when they homer, they win. Southern Miss has won five in a row, the longest win streak of the year.

“That’s what we come out here to do is to win every game. That’s what we prepare to do. It doesn’t always work out that way and it’s hard to do, you have to do a lot of things right. Today what we did to win this game was we had outstanding pitching and really good defense. Then, we had timely hitting.” Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry said.

Southern Miss did not have the type of offense they had in game one when they scored ten runs in the first three innings. However, they did replicate game one by jumping out to a quick lead in the bottom of the first inning.

After a Matthew Etzel walk and Dustin Dickerson doubled, Christopher Sargent did what he was supposed to do as the cleanup hitter and came up with a two-RBI single to put Southern Miss in front 2-0. Despite Sargent’s struggles throughout the season, he has come on as of late. Berry and company have not taken Sargent out of that four-hole despite his struggles; Sargent has used that as motivation.

“They believe in me. So, I have to believe in myself. I am finally starting to release to get that confidence back. That’s the biggest thing with me getting the confidence back and understand that I’m in the four hole for a reason. Coach Berry and the coaching staff trusts me and I just gotta go out and have the confidence to do what I do.” Sargent said.

He showed confidence again in the bottom of the sixth inning. On the inning’s first pitch, Sargent blasted a ball deep to left-center field for a 437-foot blast and an exit speed of 110 MPH. Sargent even said he had not hit a ball that far but in the video game MLB the Show.

“When it comes to show, the video game, I felt like that swing was perfect/perfect to be honest with you. Once I hit it, I knew it was gone.” Sargent said.

Sargent was not the only Golden Eagle to long-ball one out of the park. Dickerson had a dinger of his own in the third inning, which gave Southern Miss a 3-0 lead before Sargent’s homer in the sixth.

#10 Dustin Dickerson knocks his third home run of the year. (Dima Mixon)

Southern Miss had six hits today, but two were homers, and another was two RBI, so pretty efficient day at the yard for the offense.

As for the pitching, like Tanner Hall in game one, Billy Oldham rebounded from last week’s loss and earned a win pitching a stellar game against the Red Wolves. His final line was: 7.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 K’s in 94 total pitches.

Billy Oldham dealing in the fourth inning (Dima Mixon)

“It felt good to be back at home. I love pitching on our field better than the rest of them. I was very comfortable. I knew after watching Tanner last night that they were a lineup that could be handled. Tanner is great and I always just want to keep up with him.” Oldham said.

The offense has undoubtedly been on fire over the past several games, which eases the pressure off the hitting. But bounce-back games from Hall and Oldham are big for their confidence heading into next weekend.

Southern Miss improves to 27-15, 13-7

They go for the series sweep tomorrow at 1 PM.

Game 3

Home run after home run after home run is the way to describe Southern Miss’s 17-7 victory over Arkansas State to complete the weekend sweep. The Golden Eagles homered five times, those homers accounting for 13 of the 17 runs scored. Only one of those home runs was a solo shot; all others were multiple-run dingers.

“When you can get crooked number home runs certainly those runs add up real fast. I’m really proud of our hitters especially down in the order. Paetow had a great day, Blake Johnson had a great day.” Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry said.

Carson Paetow and Blake Johnson accounted for seven of the 17 RBIs in the game. Both players have struggled this season, but today showed that they still have the power and ability to produce at a high level.

Arkansas State jumped out to a quick lead in the first off of starting pitcher Matthew Adams. Adams, who had been on the injury report, returned today for the first time since the Old Dominion series. Adams was on a pitch count, but on that count, he never got his feel for the off-speed pitch and could not locate the fastball.

The Red Wolves jumped out on him early and took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. That would be their first lead of the series. Adams finished the day with 1.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 BB, and 0 K on 42 TP.

“Certainly, the numbers do not point to what you want. But what I like is that his velocity is where it needs to be. You must understand he is three weeks removed from where he needs to be. He never threw a live pen until today….” Berry said.

Berry also said that Adams did not feel any pain today while throwing, which is a great sign.

The Golden Eagles did not waste any time to get the lead right back in the bottom of the first inning. Dustin Dickerson doubled to center in the first, and Christopher Sargent brought him home by a sac fly.

Then USM hit their first homer of the day with a three-run shot by Reece Ewing, his fifth of the year to make the score 4-2 in the blink of an eye.

Dima Mixon

The Red Wolves got right back in the game in the top of the second after an error on Southern Miss, which allowed Arkansas State to score two runs to tie the game at four a piece.

Southern Miss took the lead for good in the fourth, plating four runs, including two from a Blake Johnson homer, his first home run of the day.

“I’ve kind of been struggling a bit lately. And getting that first hit, that little blooper you’ll take what you can get and sometimes that’s what it takes.” Johnson said.

Southern Miss took control in the fourth after a Carson Paetow grand slam to put Southern Miss way out in front 8-4. Paetow has had a rough year. Between the struggles at the plate and the injuries he has had to deal with, he has not been able to develop a rhythm within the lineup.

“It try to be as positive as possible, obviously {this season] isn’t what I was wanting or anticipating but if you think too hard about it it’s going to get your head, and not going to do anything for you. I try to. Go one game at a time, I had a good game today.” Paetow said.

The offense did not end there. In the seventh, Johnson drove another Southern Miss home run out for his second home run of the day. Something he has not done in his extraordinary career as a Golden Eagle. It was the only solo shot of the day for Southern Miss.

“I kind of swung over a slider, I figured I was going to get another slider. But just got my hands to the fastball and the wind is kind of blowing to right so I didn’t know If I got it or not, but I’ll take it.” Johnson said.

Matthew Etzel ended the game in the bottom of the eighth with a three-run blast to right field. It traveled 439 feet and went off the bat at 104 miles per hour. It was Etzel’s first home run in Pete Taylor Park.

Over the past couple of weeks, Southern Miss has seemed to have saved the best for Sundays. These are the stats for the last five series closers:

Troy Game 3: 13 runs, 15 hits (most runs of series)

Old Dominion Game 3: 11 runs, 14 hits (most runs of the series)

James Madison Game 3: 15 runs, 15 hits (most runs of series)

Coastal Carolina Game 3: 15 runs, 13 hits (most runs of series)

Arkansas State Game 3: 17 runs, 15 hits (most runs of the series)

That is a pretty incredible stat right there, and Eagle fans can gore at the possibility of what this lineup could do if they could replicate Sundays throughout the weekend.

Southern Miss improves to 28-15, 14-7 in Sun Belt play. They host Tulane on Tuesday at Pete Taylor Park.