The Southern Miss baseball team struggled at the plate for much of Friday afternoon’s battle with Mississippi State in Starkville, but Walker Powell and Ryan Och gave the Golden Eagles plenty of time to break through with their first run.
With two out in the top of the 10th, freshman pinch hitter Charlie Fischer punched a single through the right side of the infield to score Brant Blaylock from second and give the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the 10th, USM redshirt freshman left-hander Ryan Och finished off an impressive outing in relief by forcing Gunner Halter to fly out to center to give the Golden Eagles a 1-0 victory in Game 1 of a three-game series in Starkville.
With Friday’s victory, USM (4-0) pushed its win streak to four games over the Bulldogs from the SEC.
USM junior right-hander Walker Powell put in an outstanding effort in the starting role, repeatedly pitching to contact. He allowed five hits, struck out two and walked none over 7 2/3 scoreless innings. Of his 77 pitches, 60 were for strikes.
Och, whose fastball clocked in at 93 miles per hour at times, kept MSU scoreless for 2 1/3 innings, giving up two hits, striking out two and walking none. He threw 34 pitches — 26 strikes.
Mississippi State put a runner in scoring position for the first time in the bottom of the eighth when Halter grounded out to move Dustin Skelton two second with two out.
USM pitching coach Christian Ostrander then called on the bullpen for Och, who forced MSU senior Jake Mangum to ground out to second to end the threat.
Och gave up a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth to Jordan Westburg, who later advanced to second on a steal with two out.
Again, Och came up with the big out to strand Westburg on second by striking out Elijah Macnamee to send the game to extra innings.
Mississippi State starting pitcher Ethan Small, a redshirt junior lefty, completely dominated the USM lineup for seven innings. The Eagles had trouble making contact on Small and the Eagles’ first hit didn’t come until Hunter Slater reached on an infield single with one out in the seventh.
Small walked one, struck out 13, allowed one hit and walked none.
Fischer’s hit was one of just three for USM with Slater and designated hitter Erick Hoard both coming up with singles.
Hoard’s two-out single in the 10th started the Eagles’ rally in the 10th.
Mangum and Skelton both had 2-for-4 outings for the Bulldogs, who drop to 4-1.
Redshirt junior lefty Trysten Barlow took the loss for Mississippi State, giving up one run on one hit in one inning out of the pen.
USM junior outfielder/pitcher Matt Wallner made his first start in the field, lining up in right field. He suffered a strain in his right forearm prior to the start of the season and was the designated hitter in all three games against Purdue last weekend.
Brant Blaylock was originally scheduled to get the start in right field on Friday, but he was a late scratch in the lineup due to an injury.
Wallner finished 0-for-4 at the plate.
Blaylock entered the game in the 10th as a pinch runner.
Like Wallner, Fischer and Och both hale from the state of Minnesota.
Southern Miss will play Mississippi State at noon on Saturday in Game 2, which will again be shown on SEC Network-plus, which is available to SEC Network subscribers on the ESPN app or at ESPN.com.
Junior lefty Stevie Powers (1-0, 1.50) is scheduled to be the starting pitcher for USM. MSU is expected to counter with freshman right-hander J.T. Ginn (1-0, 3.60).