Southern Miss

Southern Miss struggles on the mound in loss to ODU

By Patrick Magee

Southern Miss coach Scott Berry argues a called strike with third base umpire Jim Schaly Saturday in Hattiesburg.
Southern Miss coach Scott Berry argues a called strike with third base umpire Jim Schaly Saturday in Hattiesburg. ttisbell@sunherald.com

Southern Miss fell short in another slugfest at Pete Taylor Park on Saturday.

Old Dominion topped USM 13-11 as both teams had problems on the pitcher's mound from typically reliable arms.

“Slugfest is what we want,” USM freshman outfielder Matt Wallner said. “We usually think that we can win those games, but we've got to throw the ball better than what we did today. We just walked quite a bit of guys. As an offense we missed a few situations, but it's hard to point that out when you score 11 runs.”

USM starting pitcher Hayden Roberts allowed seven runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings before he was removed from the game. Golden Eagle closer Nick Sandlin (5-1) suffered his first loss of the season, allowing four runs on two hits in the eighth inning. He entered the game with an ERA of 0.28.

“We had no answer for them out of the bullpen other than (Colt Smith), and Stevie (Powers) covered some innings there,” USM coach Scott Berry said.

ODU ace Adam Bainbridge, who entered the game with 0.99 ERA, allowed seven runs on nine hits in a five-inning outing.

USM seemed to be in good shape when it scored four runs in the first inning off Bainbridge, including a two-run triple by Wallner.

ODU responded with a total of seven runs over the next two innings to take a 7-4 lead, but USM responded with four runs in the sixth to tie it up at 8-8.

ODU put the game out of reach in the eighth inning, scoring four runs off Sandlin, including a three-run double by Will Morgan, to take a 12-8 lead.

Morgan finished the game 4-for-5 with three doubles and six RBIs.

Wallner also had another big day at the plate, going 2-for-4 with four runs batted in.

“Felt really good coming in scoring four runs in the first inning, but hats off to Old Dominion,” Berry said. “Very disappointed that we didn't perform better on the mound. It seemed like we stayed up in the zone all day where hitters like it. We stayed in advantage counts where hitters like it. We didn't pitch down in the zone where the umpire wanted it and where hitters don't like it. We've obviously got to do a much better job of that.”

Old Dominion (27-12, 11-6) finished Saturday's game in a three-way tie for second place with Charlotte and Florida Atlantic.

USM maintains its spot atop C-USA at 30-11 overall and 13-4 in league play.

USM will need junior right-hander Taylor Braley to deliver in his first weekend start of the season when he takes the mound for Sunday's 10:30 a.m. series finale at Pete Taylor Park. He is 3-1 with a 3.99 ERA in seven starts this season, all in the mid-week role.

“I have total confidence in Braley,” Wallner said. “I know he'll use that frustration to his advantage. I'm really confident going into tomorrow and I know we'll get that Game 3 win.”

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