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Russo’s magical eighth leads Southern Miss baseball to win over Troy

Matthew Russo's late-game heroics lifted Southern Miss to a 6-5 victory over Troy on Thursday night (Photo courtesy of USM Athletics)

Southern Miss first baseman Matthew Russo has become a fan favorite this season, and on Thursday night, he showed why.

In round two of the Sun Belt Tournament in Montgomery, Ala., the Golden Eagles were trailing 5-3 to Troy in the bottom of the eighth inning when Russo hit his second double of the night to tie things up. Three at-bats later, Dalton McIntyre hit a single and Russo scored to give Southern Miss their final lead of the day, 6-5.

Before Russo’s magical eighth and freshman reliever Josh Och closed the game out, Troy attacked Southern Miss starting pitcher Niko Mazza early with four runs off six hits through three innings to retake the lead after the Golden Eagles scored three off Garrett Gainous in the top of the third. The Trojans extended their lead to two runs off a sixth-inning RBI single by Will Butcher, but for the second day in a row, late-game heroics put Southern Miss in the win column.

Leading the box score for Southern Miss was McIntyre with three hits. Russo and Seth Smith had two hits apiece. Slade Wilks extended his hit streak to 30 games with a double, while JB Middleton got the win on the mound.

Southern Miss will now get an off day before returning to play on Saturday against the winner of Friday’s game between Troy and Appalachian State. The Golden Eagles are just one win away from their second consecutive Sun Belt championship appearance, which is set for Sunday.

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