HATTIESBURG, Miss. – With the score tied at 4-4, Alabama had a three-run eighth inning, that included back-to-back RBI doubles by Ben Moore and Austen Smith en route to a 7-4 non-conference win over the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles on Wednesday night from Pete Taylor Park. With the win, Alabama improves to 25-18 overall, while the Golden Eagles fall to 21-19.
Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard said, “We competed really hard for nine innings. The key to the game tonight was Jay Shaw and the rest of the bullpen. Shaw was terrific when he came and he was followed by Guilbeau, Haack and Hawley. After the four-spot they gave us, then never really threatened the rest of the game due to the bullpen.”
Alabama returns Southeastern Conference action Friday when it hosts the Texas A&M Aggies in game one of a three-game series. First pitch Friday is at 6:35 p.m. CDT, at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Alabama used five pitchers in the game, with Jay Shaw being the most effective. In relief of starter Jon Keller, Shaw threw a career-high 3 1/3 scoreless and hitless innings as he walked one, hit one, and struck out one. UA’s third pitcher of the night, Taylor Guilbeau (3-1), threw two scoreless innings, allowing two hits with a walk and two strikeouts and picked up the win. Tucker Hawley threw the ninth to record his first save of the season. Keaton Haack threw a scoreless eighth inning and starter Jon Keller lasted just 1 2/3 innings after allowing four runs in the second inning.
The Crimson Tide outhit the Golden Eagles 11-9 as Alabama notched its 18th double-digit performance of the year, against six Southern Miss pitchers. UA designated hitter Austen Smith had the big night at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a pair of singles, a double, three RBI and two runs scored. Ben Moore was 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a RBI, which was the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth inning. Andrew Miller was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
“Offensively, I thought we swung the bats really well throughout the ball game,” Gaspard said. “(Austen) Smith had a big night and it was good to see Ben (Moore) get the big double there in the eighth and I was pleased with our at-bats one through nine tonight. We had some adversity during the game, but our guys handled it well and played with a lot of confidence. This is a really good road win as this is a tough place to play. So it was a good midweek victory for us.”
With the win, Alabama improves to 16-9 against non-conference opponents this season, which includes a 10-3 mark in midweek games.
The fourth pitcher of the night for Southern Miss, James McMahon (0-1), gave up all three runs in the Bama eighth and took the loss. McMahon lasted 1 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on three hits with one strikeout. USM starter A.J. Glasshof went one-plus inning, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits with a walk.
The leading hitter for Southern Miss was leadoff man Dillon Day who was 3-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored. Right fielder Mason Robbins was 1-for-4 with two RBI and Issac Rodriguez was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored.
Alabama got out to an early 1-0 lead, scoring the first run of the contest just two batters into the game. Kenny Roberts drew an 11-pitch walk then scored from first when the Southern Miss third baseman threw the ball into right field on a sacrifice bunt by Georgie Salem.
The Tide added a run in the second after loading the bases with singles by Smith, Mikey White and Miller to open the inning, as Smith scored on a ground out by Chance Vincent. After Roberts struck out swinging, Vincent got caught in a run down between first and second, but White was thrown out at the plate trying to score.
After the Alabama base running miscue, the Golden Eagles responded with a four-run second inning. After a double opened the inning, Keller retired the next two hitters before giving up a walk, a single, a double, a hit batter and two-run single by Robbins with two outs to cap the scoring and end Keller’s night.
Bama evened the score in the sixth inning when Smith delivered a two-run single to score Kyle Overstreet and Moore. Overstreet walked to open the inning then with one out, Moore doubled to left field, as the USM left fielder slipped trying to make the catch, to put runners on second and third for Smith.
Alabama took the lead for good in the eighth inning. After Overstreet opened the inning with a single to center field, Moore followed with a double to left center to drive in Overstreet for the eventual game-winning run. Smith followed with a double to right center to plate Moore to make the score 6-4. With two outs and Smith on third, Andrew Miller singled down the line in right to cap the scoring at 7-4.