The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


Ostrander makes history, Southern Miss wins final home series against Texas State

Sean Smith

Southern Miss (37-18, 20-10) baseball is hosting Texas State (27-29, 13-17) in the final weekend series at the Pete this weekend. Here is a recap of each game as they happen:

Game 1

After the game was suspended on Thursday due to weather, Texas State held on to beat Southern Miss 7-5 in the series opener on Friday afternoon. The game began on Thursday night and concluded on Friday afternoon.

The loss for Southern Miss snapped an eight-game winning streak dating back to April 30.

Billy Oldham got the start on the mound for Southern Miss on Thursday and had one of the worst outings of the year on the bump.

Oldham threw 99 pitches and scattered just two strikeouts across five innings of work. The Bobcats managed to collect nine hits on the right-hander and five earned runs serving him the loss, just his second of the season.

It all started in the first inning when Chase Mora and Ryne Farber both collected back-to-back one-out hits. Aaron Lugo batted them home with a 2RBI-double down the third base line to put the Bobcats on top 2-0.

The Bobcats extended their lead in the top of the third inning when Lugo collected another RBI with a single down the left side to make the score 3-0 in favor of Texas State.

Southern Miss finally was able to scratch across their first run in the fifth inning when Davis Gillespie collected an RBI single to left field to make the score 3-1.

Texas State then exploded for a four-run sixth inning off the bats of Daylan Pena and Lugo as they extended their lead to a commanding 7-1 lead.

Southern Miss wasn’t done, however, as they answered in the bottom half of the sixth inning when Matthew Russo singled up the middle an RBI, and Dalton McIntyre came through with two runs on a double just over the left fielder’s head.

This made the score 7-4, and Southern Miss added another run in the seventh inning when Gillespie doubled down the left field line to make the score 7-5.

Southern Miss had a runner on in the bottom of the eighth, but that’s when the rain came—and didn’t stop. The game was pushed over to the next day, and it was picked up in the bottom of the eighth.

Southern Miss could not get any runs across in the eighth and ninth innings, and Texas State ended the Golden Eagles win streak.

The Bobcats became the first road team this season to open the series with a win at Pete Taylor Park.

Southern Miss hopes to even the series in game two, which begins about an hour after the first.

Game 2

A three-run eighth inning lifted Southern Miss past Texas State to even the series Friday afternoon at the Pete. The win comes after the Golden Eagles dropped game one earlier in the day by a score of 7-5. 

“Real proud of that bounce back win,” Southern Miss head coach Christian Ostrander said. “Between last night and finishing that game today, it was a long night and long day. Obviously disappointed we didn’t win that game one, but we didn’t do enough to win that game. But I thought they bounced back well.” 

Matthew Russo broke the tie in the bottom of the eighth inning with his fifth home run of the year, a 375-foot opposite-field shot that left the yard at 100 miles per hour. The home run gave Southern Miss a 4-3 lead. 

“There’s no better feeling than taking the lead in the eighth,” Russo said. “I’m glad I did my job, and we won the game that’s all you can ask for.” 

Russo has elevated himself and his presence in the lineup over the past several weeks. His batting average has slowly ticked up, and he is producing at the bottom of the lineup, which is vital to the team’s balance on offense. 

“He’s coming into his own,” Ostrander said. “I think his progression has been great. I think he’s done a great job for us and that was a big hit for us. I know we added some runs after that, but he got the big hit to give us the lead.”

Southern Miss started the day with Slade Wilks knocking his 14th home run of the season in an opposite-field shot. Wilks extended his hitting streak to 27 games, which moves him up in the all-time leaderboards at fourth. 

“That’s a heck of a feat to do at this level,” Ostrander said. 

His two-run home run in the first inning put Southern Miss in front 2-0, extending to 3-0 when Seth Smith came up with an RBI single to register his 11th RBI of the year. 

Texas State tied it up in the top of the fifth inning with an RBI double by Chase Mora and an RBI single by Daylan Pena. 

However, USM responded with Russo’s home run and two more runs thanks to Wilks’s RBI double. 

“I’m just trying to get my swing off on the right pitches,” Wilks said. “I don’t want to miss pitches I can’t handle. A lot of times when I am struggling, I am swinging at the pitcher’s pitches and not my pitches. I think that’s the biggest thing.”

Wilks collected four RBIs today, adding to his season total of 56. 

“He has been very steady,” Ostrander said. “And rightfully so, he’s a great hitter, great competitor, he’s mature, he’s old, he’s been through everything. To see him doing what he is doing is not surprising to us.” 

Wilks will participate in senior day festivities tomorrow as his time at USM will end after the season. 

“I’ve tried not thinking about it for a while,” Wilks said. “But this weekend has kinda been hitting me. I honestly want to start by saying how grateful I am. I couldn’t imagine playing at a better university.” 

Chandler Best got the win, his third, on the mound for Southern Miss after pitching in relief from starter Niko Mazza.

“When you play good defense, you pitch good, or you hit good you’re most likely going to win a game,” Russo said. 

“Today we did all three,” 

With the win, Southern Miss clinched the No. 2 seed in the Sun Belt tournament, which will be held next weekend in Montgomery, Alabama. 

Their record now stands at 36-18, 19-10. 

The rubber match is slated for a 1:00 pm first pitch. 

Game 3

Christian Ostrander became the first Southern Miss baseball coach to reach 37 wins in his inaugural year as head coach after Southern Miss beat Texas State 5-3 this afternoon on a senior day. Ostrander is just the fifth coach to lead the Golden Eagles baseball team, so this is certainly quite an accomplishment.

“This has been a blast,” Ostrander said. “It’s a dream come true. I’m extremely thankful and humble, and you know for Coach Berry to feel like I was the right guy to be the next one…that meant the world to me.”

Former head coach Scott Berry reached 36 wins in his first season at the helm, and Corky Palmer reached 30 wins in his first season.

“There’s no one else you’d rather play for,” Russo said. “He’s done such a good job leading us. We’ve had our struggles throughout the year, and he’s kept us down and just relaxed. I mean look how far we have come. A lot of it is credit to him.”

Ostrander will look to become the first Southern Miss head coach to win a conference championship in their inaugural year next week in Montgomery but for now just happy to end the regular season on another series win.

“I’m proud of our guys for gutting it out,” Ostrander said. “When you lose game one of a series it’s really hard to come back and win the next two. Especially against a really good team over there, and one who was fighting for their lives,”

The Bobcats, playing to keep their season alive, jumped out in front first in the top of the second inning when Daylan Pena secured an RBI single to go up 1-0.

Southern Miss tied the game when Dalton McIntyre came up with an RBI fielder’s choice in the bottom of the third inning.

Texas State went right back in front when August Ramirez sent a ball 417 feet over the center field wall for a solo home run in the top of the fourth inning.

The Golden Eagles responded with two runs in the bottom of the fifth. One coming from Ozzie Pratt’s RBI single. Pratt extended his hitting streak to 11 games and 10 games with multiple hits in a game.

Then, Slade Wilks enjoyed senior day by delivering a go-ahead RBI double to right center, bringing home Pratt to extend his hitting streak to 28 games, which put the Golden Eagles ahead 4-3.

Pratt and Russo gave Southern Miss some insurance in the later innings with a Pratt RBI-double and Russo’s line drive home run in the bottom of the eighth.

That was his sixth home run of the season.

Cole Boswell got the start on the mound for Southern Miss and struggled early, but not before Kros Sivley came in and closed things down for Southern Miss through four innings of work.

“I don’t know if we win that game if he doesn’t cover four innings of shutout baseball,” Ostrander said. “That’s what it always takes, somebody needs to step up and have a special moment.”

That could give Southern Miss some encouragement from their left-hander, who hasn’t had the year many thought he may have had this season going into the Sun Belt tournament.

Southern Miss will head to Montgomery with a 37-18 record and a 20-10 record in conference, which is the eighth straight season that has occurred at USM.

The Golden Eagles have the most consecutive winning seasons in conference play dating back to 2010.

Southern Miss will now travel to Montgomery, Alabama for the Sun Belt baseball tournament. The first game for Southern Miss baseball is scheduled for Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. Opponent TBD.

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