Tennessee, Southern Miss set for winner take all game three after USM collapses in game two.

The story seemed to write itself after Southern Miss won game one of the Hattiesburg super regional. Tanner Hall on the mound, one win away from Omaha, in front of Pete Taylor Park…but the Volunteers quickly closed the book on that story. Southern Miss fell to Tennessee 8-4 after a disastrous back-to-back inning in the fourth and fifth innings, and there will be a winner take all game tomorrow with a time to be determined.

“Obviously, the goal is to be where we are right now. But the ultimate goal was to get to that next step. Last year we were here, and we saw the wall and weren’t able to knock it over. This year we are one win away from knocking that wall over.” Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry said. “They brought the fight back into the middle of the ring and it’s winner take all tomorrow.”

After play in game one was suspended yesterday due to weather, Southern Miss held on by the skin of their teeth to win 5-3 and grab a 1-0 series lead. It was Southern Miss’s first win in a super-regional since 2009.

Justin Storm pitched 4.1 innings in relief, allowing just two hits and no runs, along with three strikeouts. The Golden Eagles mustered two home runs before play was suspended on Saturday, one by Dustin Dickerson and the other by Nick Monistere. Tate Parker came up with a 2RBI triple in the first to start things. It was 4-0 heading into Sunday’s resume, and Tennessee plated three right out the gate, to which USM responded with a run in the top half of the sixth, and then it was all pitching from there on out.


Southern Miss was one win away from Omaha and came out fiery early. Hall delivered three innings of scoreless baseball, and in the bottom of the third, Pete Taylor Park exploded thanks to a Christopher Sargent three-run home run to put the Eagles up 4-0 after an Etzel RBI single beforehand.

But that was the last of the cheering at Pete Taylor Park. Tennessee would put up a six spot in the top of the fourth and then two more in the top of the fifth to seize control of the game.

“We had four errors on game too, and a couple of those runs came off an error. Which would have kept it at two runs and who knows what happens there with at least four runs to play but that’s how it goes sometimes.” Berry said.

Hall allowed a leadoff double and a one-out RBI single to start things off in the fourth. Then Blake Burns absolutely launched a two-run `home run 479 feet to bring the score 4-3. Then the rails came off. After a walk, single, and hit by a pitch, the base was loaded with two outs.

Jared Dickey hit a single to center, and Matthew Etzel had a bad read on the ball and let it roll past him for a base-clearing error, bringing the score to 6-4 in favor of the Vols. It sucked all the life out of the stadium, and USM seemed shell-shocked for the rest of the game. Moreover, it is always easy to pitch with the lead, which is precisely what Tennessee ace Chase Hollander did.

“It definitely calmed me down a lot because these guys have my back behind me.” Hollander said.

He sat down 15 of the next 16 Southern Miss batters to never let them even threaten to get back in the contest.

“He’s a really good pitcher. We got to him early on, and he kind of settled in. He has an electric fastball. Got three other pitches that he can land for strikes that keeps you off balance.” Dickerson said.

As for Tanner Hall, a loss will end his fantastic career as a Southern Miss player; not the ending he wanted but nothing short of a remarkable career for Tanner Hall as a Golden Eagles.

“My time here has been a dream come true. The opportunity I have had is something that a lot of guys are itching to have. Just to have Coach Berry give me that chance and along with Coach Oz and all the other coaches to allow me to go out there and show who I am. It definitely makes me feel like this is a family and that’s what we are.” Hall said.

In a game where the margin of error is so low, the four errors committed by Southern Miss are not good enough to get past a team with the caliber of Tennessee. Of those four errors, two of them yielded two runs for Tennessee. Giving Tennessee free runs will not help your cause, and it certainly did not today.

The silver lining for Southern Miss is that they have had their backs against the wall countless times this postseason and delivered each time.

In the last six games where they faced elimination, they have responded. Here are the scores in those contests:

App State, W 11-1

Louisiana, W 6-2

Auburn, W 7-2

Samford, W 9-4

Penn, W 11-2

Penn, W 11-7

“The message is; you win and go to Omaha or you lose and your season is over.” Dickerson said.

“We’ve dealt with it before and we’re going to deal with it again. We’ve got a group of guys in that locker room who will definitely be ready to play.”

The first pitch for tomorrow’s winner take has yet to be determined.