Southern Miss wins twice to reach Auburn Regional championship game

Published 12:21 am Monday, June 5, 2023

AUBURN, Ala. — Southern Miss waited out one storm, and then rode another into the championship game of the NCAA Tournament’s Auburn Regional.

The Golden Eagles won two elimination games on Sunday, beating Samford 9-4 in the afternoon and Penn 11-2 in a game that did not end until nearly midnight.

Southern Miss (44-18) forced a winner-take-all rematch with Penn (34-15) for the region championship Monday at 2 p.m. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.

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The first game Sunday was marked by a two-hour weather delay. The second was highlighted by a remarkable pitching performance from reliever Justin Storm.

Storm, a junior left-hander, retired 16 consecutive batters after entering with the bases loaded and one out in the fourth inning. He struck out two batters to end that threat and then did not let Penn generate another, as he set down every batter he faced until Jarrett Pokrovsky belted a double off the top of the left field wall with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

After Pokrovsky’s double, Storm got Ryan Taylor to hit a grounder back to the mound and threw to first for the final out.

Storm finished with a career-high 10 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings, and held Penn in check long enough for the Golden Eagles’ bats to finally break open a tight game.

Southern Miss left runners on base in each of the first eight innings, then broke through to send 12 batters to the plate in the top of the ninth and score eight runs to take an 11-2 lead.

Tate Parker hit an RBI double and Nick Monistere a two-run single to make it 6-2. A few batters later, Dustin Dickerson hit a three-run home run to bring in the final three runs.

Monistere finished the game 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Parker was 2-for-5 with one RBI and two runs scored, and Carson Paetow was 2-for-4 with a triple, one RBI and two runs scored.

Paetow put Southern Miss ahead in the sixth inning when he hit an RBI triple into the right field corner, then scored on a throwing error for a 3-2 lead.

In their first game Sunday against Samford, the Golden Eagles took control after returning to the field following the long weather delay. They scored four runs in the top of the sixth inning, two on a double by Monistere and two more on a single by Matthew Etzel, to take a 7-4 lead.

Rodrigo Montenegro added a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning and Slade Wilks one in the ninth to make it 9-4.
Etzel finished 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored. Danny Lynch was 3-for-4 with a solo home run and two runs scored, and Monistere went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

Pitchers Kros Silvey (4-1) and Chandler Dawson combined to allow one run in six innings out of the bullpen. Dawson earned his first save of the season.

Auburn Regional
All games streamed on ESPN+
Friday, June 2
Game 1 – Samford 4, Southern Miss 2, 10 innings
Game 2 – Penn 6, Auburn 3, 11 innings
Saturday, June 3
Game 3 – Southern Miss 7, Auburn 2, Auburn eliminated
Game 4 – Penn 5, Samford 4
Sunday, June 4
Game 5 – Southern Miss 9, Samford 4, Samford eliminated
Game 6 – Southern Miss 11, Penn 2
Monday, June 5
Game 7 – Southern Miss vs. Penn, 2 p.m.