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USM falls to Florida State in Game 1 of Oxford Regional, 5-2

Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 5:15 PM CDT
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OXFORD, Miss. (WDAM) _ OXFORD, Miss. (WDAM) _ University of Southern Mississippi baseball coach Scott Berry was able to pretty much pinpoint when the tide turned on his Golden Eagles Saturday afternoon against Florida State University.

It was right after USM had taken the lead thanks to a couple of FSU errors that led to a couple of unearned runs in the first inning in the opening game of the Oxford Regional.

“I thought (FSU starting pitcher Parker) Messick really turned it up and was able to overcome that,” Berry said. “He was able to limit the damage in that inning to just two runs.

“That’s all we did for the rest of the game.”

Messick and three relievers combined t keep the Golden Eagles off the Swayze Field scoreboard for the rest of the game, and three home runs by the Seminoles did the rest as third seed FSU shuffled second seed USM into the elimination bracket.

FSU (32-22) will face the winner of Friday’s second game between host and top seed University of Mississippi and four seed Southeast Missouri State University at 5 p.m. Saturday.

The Golden Eagles (37-20), who have lost their last three games, will play at 11 a.m. Saturday, taking on the loser of Friday’s game.

At stake: Everything.

“We’ve just got to flush (Friday) and get ready for (Saturday),” Berry said. “There’s no secret to it. There’s nothing you can do, except have the attitude to win and understand the sense of urgency.

“You win or you go home. It’s pretty simple to me and I hope it is to our guys.”

As simple as a fly ball into right field, which actually is becoming somewhat of a not so simple bugaboo for the Golden Eagles.

After watching a shallow fly fall free for the game-winning double that knocked them out of the Conference USA baseball tournament in Ruston, La., last weekend, the Golden Eagles saw another flyball into right field fall for a double to lead off the top of the sixth inning.

It was the beginning of the end for USM starting pitcher Hunter Stanley, who was not pleased at all with the defensive prowess displayed and had no problem showing it.

A few pitches later, the lead was gone, the game tied after Logan Lacey laced his eighth home run of the season to left field.

Two batters later, the game was untied, when Elijah Cabell delivered a two-out, two-strike home run to left field.

FSU led 3-2, and USM was in trouble.

It wasn’t that the Golden Eagles weren’t putting people on base. With nine hits, a couple walks and a couple FSU errors USM managed to keep the basepaths sufficiently busy.

The Golden Eagles simply could not come up with the key or heavy hit, stranding two baserunners in three separate innings while leaving 10 on base for the game.

FSU swatted three homers Friday, which is what USM was trying to keep the Seminoles from doing.

“The top of the order for Florida State, they live and die by the home run, and they got us for three (Friday),” Berry said.

USM could make no such claim Friday, and much of that came from the magic of Messick (8-4), who weaved his way through the Golden Eagles’ lineup like a shuttle on a weave loom.

“You just have to give your team a chance,” said Messick, who allowed two unearned runs on seven hits in six innings. “You’re down 2-0 in the first inning, so my job is nothing else can score.”

Stanley (6-4) posted similar numbers as Messick, giving up three runs (one earned) on four hits in six innings.

Both pitchers needed a lot of pitches to get there. Messick threw 103 pitches, Stanley 104.

The difference: two of Stanley’s left the park.

And another flyball entered USM’s twilight zone in right field to hurt the Golden Eagles.

“I don’t have answer,” Berry said. “Hopefully, when the ball goes to right field (Saturday), we’ll catch it.”

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