Southern Miss first baseman Dylan Burdeaux struck out twice and even got picked off base during Sunday’s Conference USA baseball game against Florida Atlantic University.
But all that is now forgotten, as the senior singled in the tying and winning runs with two out in the bottom of the 11th inning to give the Golden Eagles a 5-4 victory at Pete Taylor Park.
The win completed a sweep of the three-game series for Southern Miss (37-12 overall, 19-5 in C-USA), which is in first place by three games in the conference. FAU came into the series in second place but drops to 29-16-1 and 15-9 and into third place in league action. Old Dominion, at 16-8, moves into second place in Conference USA.
“This team is awesome,” Burdeaux said. “Kirk (McCarty) made a good point after the game. He said, ‘Everybody talks about the 2009 team (that went to the College World Series). If you don’t believe in the 2017 team, you’re kind of crazy.’ “That’s our motto, to make a name for ourselves. We want to make this team one to be remembered.”
For sure, fans will remember this weekend. Colt Smith pitched the Golden Eagles to a win on Friday, they won Saturday’s game with two out in the ninth inning and took Sunday’s with two out in the 11th.
“I’m so proud of the guys for not showing the attitude of not believing that they could win this game,” USM coach Scott Berry said. “We did so many things well to win that baseball game.”
What things? Well, LeeMarcus Boyd — another 11th-inning hero — singled in a run in the fourth inning to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead and freshman Matt Wallner snapped an 0-for-10 slump in the weekend series with a home run in the eighth to put Southern Miss ahead 2-0.
And starting pitcher Taylor Braley threw eight shutout innings, allowing only two hits, before giving up solo home runs to Jared Shouppe and David Miranda in the ninth that tied the contest 2-2. He started the game pitching 4 2/3 innings of no-hit ball.
FAU took advantage of two walks and doubles by Shouppe and Jordan Poore in the top of the 11th to go ahead 4-2, but Berry and his team kept believing.
With one out in the bottom of the 11th, catcher Cole Donaldson walked. With two out, second baseman Storme Cooper walked.
That brought up shortstop LeeMarcus Boyd, who played well in the field all day long.
“Me and Burdeaux talked,” Boyd said. “I told him that if I get one in and get on second, we were going to win this game. That’s what happened.”
It did. Boyd ripped a no-ball, two-strike pitch from Cameron Ragsdale down the left-field line for a double to drive in Donaldson and put Cooper on third base.
That sent Burdeaux to the plate, and his hit between the FAU third baseman and shortstop off a curve ball didn’t surprise Berry.
“Mr. Clutch,” Berry said of his four-year starter who is batting .493 with runners in scoring position and .413 with two out and has hit safely in 24 of the past 26 games. “We’ve seen it time and time again.”
Burdeaux was as happy as his teammates.
“I knew who was on second,” he said. “I knew the game was over. LeeBo has got some wheels and he was looking to get a good jump to score that winning run, so I knew it was over.”
Nick Sandlin (8-1) was the winning pitcher. Wallner pitched one inning of relief, his first appearance on the mound since April 4 when he tweaked a hip muscle.
Southern Miss starting pitchers Colt Smith, McCarty and Braley pitched 21 1/3 innings of scoreless ball before the two homers in the ninth inning Sunday.
Burdeaux, Boyd and Pascagoula’s Tracy Hadley each had two of USM’s nine hits.
Southern Miss has two more Conference USA series before the end of the regular season and the beginning of the C-USA tournament, which will be held May 24-28 at Biloxi. It will host UAB next weekend, play Southeastern Louisiana on May 16 at MGM Park and finish the regular season May 18-20 at UTSA.
At this point, Southern Miss — 2017 — has 37 wins. That 2009 team? It finished with 40.