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Southern Miss Sports

After two lightning delays, Southern Miss baseball secures spot in Sun Belt championship

Southern Miss center fielder Dalton McIntyre slides into home plate against Appalachian State on Saturday (Aimee Cronan/The Gazebo Gazette)

If there was anything conventional about Saturday in the Sun Belt Tournament, it was that Southern Miss found a way to overcome. Other than that, it was all unconventional.

Two lightning delays turned a 9 a.m. first pitch into an 8:53 p.m. final pitch as the Golden Eagles defeated Appalachian State 7-5 to advance to the conference championship for the second consecutive season.

How it happened

Appalachian State got off to a quick start, putting two runs on the board in the first inning before Southern Miss tied it up in the top of the second. St. Andrew’s Episcopal alumnus and Ole Miss transfer Banks Tolley launched a home run to put the Mountaineers up 5-2 before the tarp hit the field for the first time.

Following a two-hour delay, play began again about a half hour after noon with Southern Miss immediately attacking the ball. Three singles in a row segued into a Slade Wilks double to make it a 5-4 game. Nick Monistere then hit a towering, 407-foot shot to put the Golden Eagles up 7-5 in the top of the fifth.

With Appalachian State back at the plate, the second lightning delay went into effect and lasted for five hours. Once the game resumed at 7:05 p.m., the story for the next four innings was written by Golden Eagle relievers Josh Och and Colby Allen, who allowed only three hits and no runs to close out the contest.

What the coach said

Saturday’s victory was the 40th for first-year head coach Christian Ostrander while also marking the eighth season in a row Southern Miss has hit the 40-win mark. The program now holds the longest active streak in Division I for consecutive seasons with 40-plus wins.

“Whenever we had delays come up throughout the day, this team remained focused and engaged, which I think really makes this team special,” Ostrander said. “This program shows a high level of consistency, and for me, it’s more about the culture established by others that came before me.”

Numbers don’t lie
  • With a first-inning single, Wilks extended his hitting streak to 31 games – the second-longest streak in Southern Miss history.
  • Ben Riley Flowers earned the win on the mound, coming in after the first delay and tossing 2.1 innings while allowing zero runs and striking out four. Allen recorded his sixth save of the season.
  • Dalton McIntyre reached base three times, advancing his season average to a team-best .380.
  • Tolley’s home run for Appalachian State was his 26th of the season, continuing a record-breaking campaign for the Mississippi native. On April 26, he broke the program’s single-season record for long balls.
Next up

Southern Miss will get a shot at the conference title on Sunday against the winner of Georgia Southern and James Madison. The Dukes need two wins to advance while the Eagles need just one. A time for the Sun Belt championship has not yet been announced. Last season, Southern Miss defeated Louisiana to take home the crown.

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