Southern Miss eliminated from regional by DBU

Published 9:46 pm Sunday, June 3, 2018

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Southern Miss baseball coach Scott Berry had a very succinct summary of his Golden Eagles’ Sunday afternoon at Baum Stadium.

“(Sunday) was a tough day,” Berry said after watching Dallas Baptist eliminate his Golden Eagles from the Fayetteville Regional with a 9-4 decision. “Certainly didn’t want to end it like we did, and it’s tough when that last one ends your season.”

The third-seeded Patriots (42-20) avenged an opening-round, 9-0 loss to the second-seeded Golden Eagles (44-18) by cranking out five home runs, including four solo shots, among the 11 hits they amassed off four USM pitchers.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Dallas Baptist earned a spot in a regional title game for a fourth consecutive NCAA postseason. They played Arkansas later Sunday and needed to win that game to force a winner-take-all matchup Monday.

“Those boys can hit, bottom line,” said Southern Miss starting pitcher Walker Powell, a Fayetteville, Ark., native who was pitching in his hometown. “They were better than us (Sunday), so they get to move on.”

After beating Dallas Baptist in the opening round with an 11-hit, nine-run assault, a Golden Eagles’ offense that had ranked among Division I’s most prolific managed just 10 hits and six runs over consecutive losses to Arkansas and Dallas Baptist.

“We didn’t compete like we needed to,” Berry said. “We didn’t come out and do the things we need to do at this time of year to play, especially in a do-or-die game. Hats off to Dallas Baptist.”

In its two games in the elimination bracket, Dallas Baptist scored 27 runs on 30 hits, including nine home runs.

Eight of DBU’s homers in that stretch were solo shots, including bases-empty clouts Sunday from right fielder Devlin Granberg, designated hitter Matt Duce, first baseman Kody Funderburk and third baseman Tim Millard.

Catcher Garrett Wolforth hit a three-run home run followed by Millard’s solo homer as the Patriots seized control with a four-run, fifth inning.

“Dallas Baptist made (us) pay for it with some good swings on it,” Berry said. “We just couldn’t get anything back.”

Sophomore right-hander Luke Eldred was the main reason for that.

Through eight innings, Eldred (7-3) allowed two runs on two hits. Both hits were by Matthew Guidry, who also drove in both runs with a home run.

Toting a seven-run lead, Eldred came back out for the ninth inning but lasted just two batters. He gave up a single to Matt Wallner and then surrendered first baseman Hunter Slater’s second home run of the regional.

That brought Eldred’s day to a close after 119 pitches. He walked two and struck out seven, allowing four runs on five hits.

Reliever Jimmy Fouse came on and got the final three outs to finish off the Golden Eagles.

Powell (7-3) gave up a run in each of the four innings he pitched, including a trio of solo home runs starting with Granberg in the first inning, Duce in the second and Funderburk in the fourth.

Granberg, who had gone 9-of-12 through DBU’s first three regional games, parked Powell’s first pitch in the left field patio for his 13th home run of the season, and Duce hit his 10th homer of the season with two outs in the second inning.

Guidry tied the game with two outs in the third inning. After left fielder Gabe Montenegro walked, Guidry skied an Eldred offering deep past the right-field wall for his fifth home run of the season.

But Dallas Baptist took the lead for good on two singles, a double steal and a dropped pop up in short left field, and then went up 4-2 in the fourth inning on Funderburk’s 13th home run of the season.

“They are really disciplined at the plate and didn’t swing at a lot of balls outside the zone,” said Powell, who needed 81 pitches to get through his four innings.

Southern Miss reliever Trent Driver started the fifth inning but never saw the sixth, lasting just two-thirds of an inning. He allowed four runs on three hits.

After a two-out double just inside the first base line by center fielder Jameson Hannah, Driver hit shortstop Jimmy Glowenke to put men on first and second. Wolforth then hit his sixth home run of the year, a three-run shot, to right field and Millard immediately followed to left field with his 16th of the season.

The Patriots led 8-2, Eldred was in a groove and Southern Miss was in a very deep hole.
Dallas Baptist tacked on a run in the seventh inning before the Golden Eagles’ short-lived rally in the ninth completed the scoring.

“It’s a game of momentum, and, certainly, DBU got the momentum, they kept it and we didn’t do anything to take it back,” Berry said. “But what I don’t want to be overshadowed in all of this for our program and our season is all the great things this group accomplished.

“That’s what we talked about after the game … the regular-season conference title, the (conference) tournament title, which is hard to do winning both of those … Disappointed that it’s over, but very proud of these young men.”