Southern Miss holds off late Mississippi State rally|College baseball

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 18, 2009

PEARL — Mississippi State made things interesting late Tuesday night. Most of Southern Miss’ excitement happened early.

All in all, the Golden Eagles were happy with the way things worked out.

Joey Archer was 3-for-4 with an RBI, Josh Fields hit a three-run homer, and Southern Miss was able to hold off a late flurry by Mississippi State to win 10-7 at Trustmark Park.

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Southern Miss scored four runs in the bottom of the first, and three more in both the fourth and fifth innings. Mississippi State got the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but couldn’t overcome the big hole it had dug for itself.

The four-run first marked the ninth time this season that USM (12-5) has scored at least three runs in an inning in the first three innings of a game. The Golden Eagles batted around in the first inning, and again in the fifth. They chased State starter Ricky Bowen after just one-third of an inning, and made the Bulldogs use seven pitchers. The only one that lasted more than an inning was former Porters Chapel star Michael Busby, who allowed a hit, four walks and three runs in 3 1/3 innings.

“We put it on them early and they couldn’t establish any momentum,” said Southern Miss shortstop Brian Dozier, who went 1-for-3 with a double and two runs scored. “Baseball is such a drawn-out game. You get runs early and it really puts the other team in a situation where they struggle to get momentum.”

Todd McInnis made sure the Bulldogs couldn’t get their footing. He allowed one run on four hits in five strong innings. Mississippi State (12-6) didn’t get a hit off him until the fourth, and didn’t get a run until Luke Adkins delivered a two-out RBI single in the fifth.

By then, Southern Miss already had a 7-0 lead. RBI singles by Bo Davis, Archer and Travis Graves keyed the first-inning rally, and a two-run single by Corey Stevens was the big blow in the fourth. Fields’ three-run homer to left in the bottom of the fifth put the Golden Eagles in front 10-1.

“They hit balls hard, not hard, they still got hits,” Mississippi State coach John Cohen said. “But it all comes from getting behind in the count. Twelve hitters into the game, we had one strike one.”

Already losing big, Cohen pulled all of his starters in the sixth and seventh innings. The backups got the Bulldogs back into it.

Jason Nappi drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh, and Frank Rawdow singled in two more in the eighth. A third run came in on a throwing error on Rawdow’s hit, cutting the deficit to 10-5.

Southern Miss reliever Collin Cargill started the ninth by walking the bases loaded. He was relieved by Wade Weathers, who coaxed a weak line drive out of State’s Ryan Duffy. Fields had to come up to get it, though, and couldn’t handle it. A run scored, and two batters later Cody Freeman hit a sacrifice fly to cut it to 10-7.

Weathers then hit a batter to bring the tying run to the plate in Rawdow. The shortstop already had two hits, but couldn’t get a third. He quickly fell behind in the count, then struck out looking at a fastball on the outside corner to end the game.

“It’s a tough spot, but I tried to clear anything I could,” Weathers said. “We still had a four-run lead, so it wasn’t as tough a situation as it looked.”


Contact Ernest Bowker at