BILOXI, Miss. (WLBT) - Matt Wallner lined a two-run home run over the right-field fence, completing an improbable five-run rally over the final two innings Wednesday night as Southern Miss walked off a 6-4 victory in the opening round of the 2019 Conference USA Baseball Championship at MGM Park.
“I was looking for a pitch up and I was fortunate enough to get that fast ball up, actually the second one, I got a barrel to it and was able to get it out,” Wallner said of Southern Miss’ fifth walkoff hit of the sea. We fought back and we needed some clutch hits.”
Little-used Storme Cooper’s two-run double sparked a three-run, game-tying rally in the ninth inning, followed by a wild pitch allowing a run to score, as the Golden Eagles sent the game into extra innings at 4-4.
“The game of baseball is a game of opportunity,” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. Stormy has been sitting over there, and seeing a lot more than playing.
“For him, to come up with an opportunity right there and deliver like he did, you can’t say enough about that senior.”
Matthew Guidry walked to lead off the 10th inning, and one out later, Wallner lashed his 20th home run of the season onto the grassy hill behind the right-field fence. It was the fourth-straight game with a homer for Wallner, who is the first Golden Eagle to do that since B.A. Vollmuth did it in 2010. Junior right-hander Cody Carroll threw three innings of one-hit baseball, allowing no runs on a walk with two strikeouts to get the victory and improve to 3-2. Walker Powell started the game for the Golden Eagles and gave up four runs on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
Second-seeded USM (35-19) will meet sixth-seeded Marshall (29-26) at 4 p.m. Thursday in a winner’s bracket match.
Seventh-seeded Rice (24-32) will take on third-seeded Louisiana Tech (34-23) at 9 a.m. Thursday.