Southern Miss’ hitters erupt after rain delay to beat James Madison

Published 8:15 pm Saturday, April 15, 2023

HATTIESBURG — Southern Miss moved Saturday’s game against James Madison up three hours to avoid the rain.

It didn’t work.

When the Golden Eagles came out after a four-hour rain delay, however, they did their best work.

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Southern Miss scored five runs in the seventh inning and two more in the eighth, all after the delay, and got home runs from Slade Wilks and Nick Monistere as it defeated James Madison 7-1.

“Even though it was a four-hour delay and we had to lay around, we knew that we had to finish that game,” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said.

The second of the three games in the weekend series at Pete Taylor Park seemed like two different contests.

Before the delay, the teams were locked in a pitchers’ duel between Southern Miss’ Billy Oldham and James Madison’s Todd Mozoki.

Mozoki only allowed three hits and no runs through five innings, while Oldham allowed one hit and struck out eight in six innings. The game was still scoreless when rain halted play between the sixth and seventh innings. Oldham, who had only thrown 73 pitches, did not return after the 4 hour, 11 minute delay.

“He was really good. He had three pitches for strikes and kept his pitch count down,” Berry said of Oldham. “I hate that the delay interrupted his outing because I really think he could have gone through and may have been able to complete-game that thing. He commanded the zone and didn’t have many mistakes.”

When play resumed, the hitters took over.

Southern Miss loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh, and then Dustin Dickerson broke the deadlock with a two-run single. Wilks followed with a three-run home run to center field on the next pitch to make it 5-0.

It was the team-leading 12th home run of the season for Wilks He finished the game 2-for-4 with three RBIs.

“When (Wilks) takes a swing, he’s meaning to hurt that ball. And if it connects, it does hurt the ball,” Berry said.

James Madison got on the board with an RBI single by Coleman Calabrese in the top of the eighth, but Monistere’s two-run homer — the first of his college career — in the bottom half pushed it back to 7-1. Southern Miss pitcher Will Armstead got the last three outs in the ninth without much trouble to finish off an effective three-inning stint out of the bullpen.

Southern Miss (21-12, 9-5 Sun Belt Conference) has won the first two games of the series against James Madison (20-14, 5-7) and will go for the sweep in Sunday’s finale that begins at 11:30 a.m.