Cole Donaldson’s two-run, 11th-inning triple over the rightfielder’s head broke a tie score to give Southern Miss a 15-11 come-from-behind victory over No. 16 Louisiana-Lafayette Sunday afternoon at Russo Park.
The Golden Eagles (8-3) salvaged the final game of the three-game set with the victory as freshman Matt Wallner did it first with his bat and then pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings down the stretch.
After falling behind big early in the contest, Wallner blasted a two-run homer to right to give the Golden Eagles their first lead in the seventh at 8-7.
The Ragin’ Cajuns (6-4) retook the lead with four runs in the bottom of the seven, but Wallner was summoned in to pitch with one out in the frame and got the visitors out of the jam with a punchout and a flyout.
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Wallner kept the Cajuns scoreless from that point and fanned seven down the stretch while allowing just two hits and walk to get the win and improve to 2-0, allowing his team to rally back in the contest.
With the game tied at 11-11 in the final frame, LeeMarcus Boyd was hit by a pitch to start the inning. After a single by Wallner, Mason Irby tried to put down a bunt and popped it up for the first out. Donaldson followed by pasting a pitch from Trent Cormier over Steven Sensley’s head in right to plate the go-ahead runs.
Storme Cooper, who notched two hits, then singled in Donaldson, before Tracy Hadley completed the scoring with a run-scoring double to center in the four-run stanza.
The Golden Eagles, though, found themselves down early as they trailed 6-0 after two innings with starting pitcher Cody Carroll being relieved after 1 1/3 innings as he allowed six runs on seven hits and a strikeout.
It was errors that proved to bite UL in the contest including one to start the fifth when first baseman Alex Pinero pulled his foot off the bag to allow Hadley to reach. Keating singled Hadley in later in the inning to make the score 6-1.
Southern Miss added four more runs in the fifth. After an RBI single by Hunter Slater to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, Hadley scored on a wild pitch and Taylor Braley capped the stanza with a two-run homer just inside the fair pole down the leftfield line, his third, to make the score 6-5.
The home squad added another run in the bottom of the inning, but the Golden Eagles kept the deficit to one run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Dylan Burdeaux and then took its first lead in the seventh on Wallner’s second home run of the year to make the score 8-7.
Still, UL battled back and scored four of its own in the bottom of the seventh, retaking the lead at 11-8 before Wallner was sent into pitch.
Wallner shutting down the potent Cajuns offense allowed the Golden Eagles to battle back in the affair.
Down three runs, Donaldson opened the eighth by taking advantage of another Cajun error as shortstop Hunter Kasuls’ throw on a grounder was over the head of the first baseman. After Cooper walked, Donaldson later scored on a wild pitch and Cooper was plated on a single by Slater. Southern Miss then tied the game when third baseman Joe Robbins made the second Cajun error of the inning on a grounder by Braley to tie the game, allowing Slater to score from first on the play.
Jack Burk, the sixth of eight UL pitchers, suffered the loss by giving up two runs on a hit and a walk with two strikeouts to fall to 0-2 on the year.