HATTIESBURG - Former Hancock High - and Alabama - pitcher Christian Talley didn't get the win in Southern Miss' 2-1 baseball victory over No. 21 Alabama Wednesday night at Pete Taylor Park.
But he sure played a major role.
Talley started the game on the mound for the 4-5 Golden Eagles, pitched 7 1/3 innings, giving up seven hits and only one unearned run. When he left the game, the score was tied 1-1.
In the eighth inning, pinch hitter Breck Kline came through with a single to drive in Mason Robbins for the winning run.
Then in the top of the ninth, closer Bradley Roney - in relief of Jay Myrick - shut down the Crimson Tide (4-3) and Southern Miss had its biggest win of the season so far.
"Defensively, we've been strong," Talley said. "I know I have to make my pitches and make them get themselves out. That's the biggest thing in college baseball."
Although Myrick got the win and Roney got the save, Talley said that didn't bother him too much.
"I used to go to the University of Alabama, and it's a win in my book," Talley said.
Talley redshirted one year at Alabama before transferring to Pearl River Community College, before coming to Southern Miss this season.
The scoreboard was eerily similar in the early innings. Neither team scored in the first four innings, and each team scored an unearned run in the fifth.
Alabama first got on the board in the fifth, when William Elliott singled, went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Chance Vincent, advanced to third on a groundout and scored when Southern Miss second baseman Nick Dawson committed an error on Mikey White's ground ball.
The Golden Eagles tied it in the bottom of the fifth when Roney, who started the game at third base, was safe on a bunt single and went to second when Alabama third baseman Vincent threw wildly to first on the play. Roney went to third on Dawson's sacrifice bunt and scored on Connor Barron's groundout to first base. Like the Crimson Tide's first run, it was unearned.
The pitchers' duel continued, but the Eagles parlayed some good decisions into the winning run in the eighth inning. Mason Robbins singled and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Matt Durst. Dylan Burdeaux was intentionally walked by left-hander Taylor Guilbeau, and USM coach Scott Berry lifted left-handed batter Tim Lynch for Kline, the right-hander.
Kline's single drove in Robbins to make it 2-1.
It was not the first time Kline, a sophomore, had batted against Guilbeau.
"He went to Zachary (La.) High School and I went to Northshore High School, and we faced him a pretty good bit," Kline said. "One time I hit a two-run home run off him, so I'm pretty familiar with him."
After Kline's big hit, it was up to Roney, and he delivered. He struck out the first two Alabama batters in the ninth inning and after a pop-up was dropped by infielder Michael Gilbert, got White to weakly fly out to second base to end the game.
"It was a great team effort on everybody's part," Berry said. "Everybody contributed, from starters to role players, guys that came in on a cold day and performed."
Berry bragged about Talley, a 6-foot-4 junior right-hander.
"He threw extremely well," Berry said. "He had a great mix of his pitchers. He threw strikes. We matched our season high with two double plays and took momentum back from them, and that's what you've got to do to win."
Southern Miss will host Troy in a three-game series this weekend, starting at 6 p.m. on Friday.