No. 23 Eagles Rally to Top Tigers
HATTIESBURG, MS - Sophomore Jace James turned in a great start for the Mizzou baseball team, but the bullpen couldn't hold his lead as the Tigers dropped the series finale to No. 23 Southern Miss, 6-1, on Sunday afternoon at Pete Taylor Park. Mizzou led 1-0 heading to the eighth inning and Southern Miss scored six times in the frame to put Mizzou away. James was sensational in his first career Tiger start as he went 5.0 innings, allowing no runs and just three hits and walking none with a strikeout. He threw 61 pitching in the outing.
Mizzou was limited to just three hits in the game while Southern Miss tallied nine in the win. In fact, since out-hitting Southern Miss in the season opener on Friday, Mizzou was limited to just nine hits over the final two games of the series. John Miles was tagged with the loss, his first of the season, while USM's Jay Myrick earned the win.
James, in his first career Division I start, breezed through the first inning on just six pitches, keeping Southern Miss off balance in the frame. Gavin Stark made a great play on a hard-hit ground ball for the third out to back James in the inning as well. Mizzou went again in order in the second and then James worked around an error by shortstop Josh Lester (Columbus, Ga.) and used a third-to-first pick-off move to get out of the second inning, sending it to the third at 0-0.
James pitched around some trouble in the fourth and fifth innings and then Mizzou got him in position to finish the game as the winner as Dane Opel drove in the first run of the game on a fielder's choice, scoring Sal Belfonte from third after he led off the inning with a double to deep left center. After allowing just three hits and now walks while striking out one, James was lifted in favor of Jake Walsh as he was in line for the win. James threw 61 pitches over the five innings as he was very efficient.
Walsh came on and issued a leadoff walk Dillon Day, but then retired the next two batters before allowing Day to advance to third after a sacrifice bunt and a steal. Walsh then walked Blake Brown but was able to retire Connor Barron after a great play by Stark at first to save the run, preserving the Tiger lead at 1-0 headed to the seventh.
Southern Miss got to Walsh a little bit in the eighth inning. After Walsh retired the first batter, he gave up a single and then a fielder's choice and a walk to put two men on for leadoff hitter Day. But Walsh got Day to ground in to a 4-3 out to send the game to the eighth inning.
After a scoreless top of the eighth, USM jumped all over Tiger reliever Miles as Isaac Rodriguez and Mason Robins led off the frame with back-to-back doubles to tie the game at 1-1. Robins was then sacrificed to third by Brown to put the go-ahead run 90 feet from home. Keaton Steele then came in to try and mop up the mess. He walked a pair of batters, the latter of which was intentional to load the bases for Austin Roussel, who ripped a single to center field, putting USM on top, 2-1. From there, the Eagles tacked on four more runs to go on top, 6-1, headed to the top of the ninth.
Mizzou will be back in action next weekend as it heads to Memphis for a three-game series.