Southern Miss run rules Appalachian State to reach Sun Belt championship game in long day of baseball.


Dima Mixon

Chris Sargent celebrates after a two run RBI-double

MONTGOMERY, Ala – In their inaugural year in the Sun Belt, Southern Miss is headed to the Sun Belt championship game after run ruling Appalachian State 11-1. Appalachian State beat Southern Miss 4-2 in the day’s first game. However, since Southern Miss had won the first two games in the tournament, they had to be beaten twice, which the Mountaineers failed to do.

“Just real proud of our guys, and how they responded after a tough loss this morning. We discussed this morning’s game and faced the same thing that Appalachian State did, we win or go home. So the sense of urgency certainly came out. I’m very proud of the way our guys competed in all areas. From the pitching side to the hitting side, and the defensive side.” Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry said.

Southern Miss jumped out to a lead early on a Christopher Sargent two-RBI-single. The Golden Eagle faithful who made the trip were loud and gave the Golden Eagles a home-field-like advantage throughout the contest.

In the first game, Southern Miss mustered up just five hits, and they were 0-13 with runners on base. In the second game, those numbers seemed like an anomaly after Southern Miss got nine hits through the first three innings and seven runs. They were 11-21 with runners on in the second game.

The entire mood of the team was different, and it was like watching a completely different team in game two versus game one.

“We kind of knew we had to come out swinging. It was obviously pretty unfortunate that we lost the first game, but we just had to play with the hand that was dealt. We knew it was win or go home so we had to be aggressive from the gate. We knew it was do or die, and we had to stay calm.” Right fielder Carson Paetow said.

Paetow had a very effective day at the plate. He went 2-4, along with two runs batted in. He was a part of the team’s six doubles with two of his own.

After Sargent’s two RBIs in the first, the Golden Eagles added another in the second, with Matthew Etzel coming up with an RBI single in the second to go up 3-0. The Mountaineers were able to tack on a run in the third on a sac fly for their only run of the game.

Southern Miss took complete control in the bottom of the third inning. After three straight RBI doubles by Danny Lynch, Nick Monistere, and Etzel, Dustin Dickerson had himself an RBI single to extend the lead to a commanding 7-1 margin.

Needless to say, the team was feeding off of the bats getting hot. Every play in the lineup got a hit outside of Blake Johnson.

“It’s cool to see some of your best friends get out and succeed. When they go out there and get a big hit and they are just smiling and jumping around on the bases. That helps us and helps the energy in the dugout. We definitely feed off of each other.” Paetow said.

While the bats shined, nothing surprised more than Southern Miss starting pitcher Will Armistead shutting down the Appalachian State lineup in the deciding game. In the first game, USM starting pitcher Matt Adams gave up nine hits and two runs in just four innings pitched.

Matt Adams pitching against App State in G1 (Dima Mixon)

Armistead, on the other hand, pitched a complete game and not only that but a gem of a complete game. 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 97 TP’s shutting down a Mountaineer lineup that had scored 35 runs coming into the contest. It was a stellar outing.

“The coaching staff wanted me to go as long as possible to save arms to give us the best chance possible to win tomorrow if needed. So, I knew that the ball was mine as logn as I could.” Armistead said.

Arimstead’s complete outing and Southern Miss initiating the run rule sets them in a great position heading into tomorrow’s Championship game.

“I’m real proud of what he [Armistead] was able to do. I’m proud of our offense for getting the run rule and getting us off the field. The two teams that are about to play, that is not the scenario they want to see.” Berry said.

With the win, Southern Miss also reaches the magic 40 wins on the season as their record improves to 40-17. That is now the seventh straight season Southern Miss has reached 40 wins which remains the longest active streak in Division 1.

The Golden Eagles advance to their first-ever Sun Belt title game in their inaugural year in the Sun Belt. They await the winner of the Coastal Carolina and Louisiana semifinal matchup tonight.

“This is who we are. This is who we have been for a while now. We missed it last year at our own place, but this is where we’re supposed to be.” Berry said on advancing to the championship.

Southern Miss dropped the series at Coastal two games to one and won the series with Louisiana two games to one.

The Sun Belt title is slated for a 1 PM first pitch.