OXFORD, Miss. - After a four-run first inning, it looked like No. 1 seed Ole Miss would cruise to victory over in-state rival Southern Miss, but the No. 2 seed Golden Eagles had other plans, responding with seven runs in the bottom half of the first en route to a 10-7 victory, forcing a deciding Game 7 on Monday in the NCAA Oxford Regional.
Hayden Dunhurst led Ole Miss at the plate with the team's only two-hit and two-RBI day. Peyton Chatagnier and Jacob Gonzalez each scored two runs, but the effort at the plate wasn't quite enough to overcome a 13-hit, 10-run outpouring from the USM offense.
The Golden Eagles chased starter Drew McDaniel after just two outs recorded, tagging him for seven runs on six hits.
Tyler Myers came in and settled things down, yielding just two runs over 5.0 innings.
Jackson Kimbrell was outstanding out of the bullpen as well, throwing 1.2 flawless innings to give the Rebels a chance late, but the comeback wasn't meant to be.
The Ole Miss offense opened it up with a four-spot in the first, courtesy of four free passes-two walks and two HBPs. A bases-loaded hit by pitch issued to Justin Bench brought home the first run, TJ McCants plated the second on a sacrifice fly, and a Hayden Dunhurst double sent the final two runners home.
Southern Miss had a resounding answer, responding with an eight-hit, seven-run bottom half, knocking a double, a home run and four singles off of starter McDaniel before he was replaced by Myers with two outs in the first.
The Golden Eagles kept hitting, notching two more singles off Myers before the first inning finally came to a close 49 minutes after it began with the score 7-4.
Ole Miss got one run back in the second on a solo home run by Peyton Chatagnier, but the Golden Eagles had an answer again as Will McGillis lifted a two-run shot into the bullpen to make it a 9-5 contest through two.
In a stunning turn of events, both teams made it through the third inning without scoring, but the drought didn't last long. A Chatagnier walk and a Jacob Gonzalez single led to the pair scoring on back-to-back RBI groundouts by Tim Elko and Kevin Graham, making it just a two-run gap, 9-7.
Myers continued to keep the Golden Eagle bats quiet, posting scoreless fourth and fifth innings with just one baserunner allowed in each frame. The senior out of Houston logged two outs in the sixth but allowed two to reach, bringing Brandon Johnson out of the bullpen, who quickly induced a pop-out to end the frame.
Southern Miss added one run in the seventh but could've had much more. The Golden Eagles loaded the bases with no outs. Johnson came back with a strikeout before hitting a batter to plate a run and give way to Jackson Kimbrell. The lefty worked a clutch double play to escape the jam and keep the score 10-7.
Kimbrell went 1-2-3 through the eighth to give Ole Miss a chance at a late comeback, but the Rebels couldn't complete the late rally.
Monday Time Change
Ole Miss and Southern Miss will meet once more on Monday to decide the Oxford Regional champion. With inclement weather in the forecast for Monday evening, first pitch for the regional finale has been moved to noon CT.
- Ole Miss falls to 43-20 on the season.
- The Rebels are now 78-52 all-time against Southern Miss.
- Ole Miss' NCAA Tournament record now stands at 60-51.
- With his first inning walk, Kevin Graham tied the longest reached-base streak in the nation this year at 56 games (Connor Norby - ECU). It is the longest active streak in college baseball. He has reached safely in 61 of 63 games this season.
- Tyler Myers tied a career-high with six strikeouts, set last week in the SEC Tournament against Vanderbilt..
- Justin Bench was hit by a pitch three times, moving him to sole possession of the national lead with 29 on the season.