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Louisiana Tech steals split from Southern Miss with walk-off homer

RUSTON, La. — Southern Miss was one out away from a huge series victory against Louisiana Tech when it was cruelly reminded of the old baseball adage, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Manny Garcia hit a walk-off two-run home run with two outs in the seventh inning as Louisiana Tech salvaged a split of Sunday’s doubleheader — and the series — with a 7-6 victory.

Southern Miss won game one, 12-11. Garcia’s homer allowed Louisiana Tech (26-9, 12-4 Conference USA) to maintain its lead over Southern Miss (23-12, 10-5) in C-USA’s West Division. Louisiana Tech won five of the eight meetings between the teams this season. Five of the eight games were also decided by one run.

Both games Sunday were scheduled for seven innings on getaway day in Ruston.

The first game featured 23 runs and 28 hits in seven innings, but Southern Miss’ game-winning run came across on a wild pitch.

Pinch-runner Brady Faust stole second, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch to give the Golden Eagles enough of a lead to outlast 13th-ranked Louisiana Tech 12-11.

Faust’s run in the seventh inning of game one put Southern Miss up 12-8, which proved to be just enough of a cushion.

Louisiana Tech rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh — Taylor Young hit an RBI double and Hunter Wells followed with a two-run single — before Garrett Ramsey got the game’s final out to pick up his eighth save of the season.

Wells had two hits and two RBIs for Louisiana Tech, while Parker Bates went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs. Philip Matulia and Jorge Corona also homered for the Bulldogs.

Will McGillis homered and drove in three runs for Southern Miss, which hit six doubles in the game.

Gabe Montenegro doubled, singled and drove in three runs, while Reed Trimble had a double and two RBIs. Blake Johnson went 2-for-3 with one RBI and two runs scored.

In game two, freshman Slade Wilks hit a pinch-hit three-run home run in the sixth inning — the first of his college career — and Danny Lynch added an RBI single as Southern Miss scored four times to grab a 6-5 lead. The drama was far from over, however.

Young led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a single for Louisiana Tech, and the next two batters flied out. Then, on an 0-1 count, Garcia sent a ball over the left field fence for his seventh home run of the season and the game-winner.

The home run capped a 4-for-4 game for Garcia, after he went 0-for-5 in game one. He homered twice and drove in four runs. Young went 3-for-4 and scored three runs.

Montenegro and Trimble had two hits apiece for Southern Miss, which will be off until it starts a four-game series against Western Kentucky Friday at 6 p.m. at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg.