USM rallies in eighth inning to down Western Kentucky, 6-5
From University of Southern Mississippi Sports Information Department
HATTIESBURG, Miss.(WDAM) – Consecutive eighth-inning doubles and a fielding error accounted for two runs in leading the University Southern Mississippi over Western Kentucky University 6-5 Friday evening in the first game of a Conference USA baseball series at Pete Taylor Park.
The Golden Eagles (24-12, 11-5 C-USA) continue a solid month of April, having won 10 of 13 games.
After leading for the better part of the game, USM trailed 5-4 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning after WKU came up with four runs in the top of the inning, including a pinch-hit, three-run home run by Ty Crittenberger.
Gabe Montenegro, who had three of USM’s 11 hits in the game, led off the bottom of the eighth inning with his team-leading 14th double.
Reed Trimble followed with a double of his own to center to score Montenegro to tie the game. After a sacrifice by Brady Faust and a sharp lineout to third base by Christopher Sargent, left-hander Reece Ewing hit a ball the other way into left-center field. It looked like Crittenberger was going to catch the drifting fly ball to end the inning, but the ball caromed off his glove, allowing Trimble to score the go-ahead run.
Initially, USM had jumped out to an early lead with a solo run in the second on a sacrifice fly by Dustin Dickerson.
WKU (18-19, 8-9) tied the score in the sixth on a lead-off solo home run by Ray Zuberer III, his fourth round-tripper of the year.
The Golden Eagles, though, retook the advantage in the bottom of the frame. With one out, Will McGillis and Johnson smacked back-to-back doubles with the second one driving in a run. Montenegro then plated Johnson two batters later with a single up the middle.
The home squad increased the advantage to 4-1 in the seventh inning when McGillis was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Hunter Stanley turned in another quality start for the Golden Eagles, allowing three runs on five hits over 7 2/3 innings, with a walk and seven strikeouts.
Stanley was cruising with a 4-1 lead before allowing a one-out single in the eighth followed by a two-out RBI double by Jackson Gray off the center-field wall.
The Golden Eagles then went to the bullpen for relief pitcher Ryan Och, who allowed a walk and then Crittenberger’s second home run of the year, giving the Hilltoppers their first lead of the game advantage.
Och got a pop out to first to open the ninth before hitting a batter and turning it over to closer Garrett Ramsey.
After Ramsey hit a batter, he got a strikeout and then got Justin Carlin to hit a sinking liner to center field, where Trimble made a dazzling, diving catch to save the game for the Golden Eagles and ending the contest.
Och (5-0) got the win despite allowing two runs on one hit in 2/3 innings. He walked one, struck out one.
Ramsey earned his ninth save, striking out one in 2/3 innings.
Bailey Sutton (2-1), the last of six pitchers WKU used in the game, gave up an unearned run on a hit, while striking out one,
The two teams continue the series with a 2 p.m., doubleheader Saturday.
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