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Southern Miss baseball comes from behind to beat Georgia Southern in Sun Belt championship

The Southern Miss team celebrating after winning the 2024 Sun Belt championship on Sunday (Photo by Aimee Cronan/The Gazebo Gazette)

The Southern Miss baseball team never imagined winning a second consecutive Sun Belt championship would be easy – especially after losing longtime head coach Scott Berry to retirement and only having one true senior in the lineup – but Berry’s successor Christian Ostrander and his team found a way to do it.

During Sunday’s championship game at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, Ala., the Golden Eagles scored eight runs in the last three innings to come from behind and defeat Georgia Southern, 14-11.

How it happened

While Southern Miss jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning, Georgia Southern immediately responded with three home runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 4-3 lead. That set a precedent for what most of the afternoon consisted of. Southern Miss scoring some. Georgia Southern scoring more.

With Georgia Southern up 11-9 going into the ninth, it looked like Southern Miss would be heading back to Hattiesburg ringless.

That was until late-game heroics came from the Golden Eagles’ dugout for the third time this tournament. Three singles in a row segued into Ozzie Pratt delivering two runs to put Southern Miss on top, 12-11. Matthew Russo followed it up with two more runs to ensure Colby Allen had a comfortable 14-11 lead before closing out the game.

Tournament MVP

Despite already pitching twice going into the championship game, Allen was asked to take the mound for the final two innings on Sunday as Southern Miss had already gone through five pitchers.

And the sophomore didn’t bat an eye. Allen gave up just one hit and helped the Golden Eagles wrap up their seventh conference tournament title since 1996. Earning the win, Allen improved to 9-2 on the season and was named Most Outstanding Player in this year’s tournament.

What the coach said

Ostrander told members of the press after the game that even with the odds against his team time after time this season, his guys managed to keep fighting and earned this year’s title.

“I’m just proud of our guys [for] fighting and showing the characteristics of even when you get down, to stay in the middle of the ring and keep punching and give yourself a chance to win. They did that,” Ostrander said. “Division I baseball’s season is long, so there’s going to be ups and downs. But you’ve got to keep learning, and this group epitomizes that. They’ve gotten stronger, and as a coach, I couldn’t be more proud of that.”

Numbers don’t lie
  • Senior Slade Wilks extended his hitting streak to 32 games after hitting a two-run single in the top of the seventh inning.
  • While Allen won MVP, four others were named to the all-tournament team: Dalton McIntyre, Nick Monistere, Billy Oldham, and Wilks.
  • Carson Paetow, the Golden Eagles’ right fielder who has been out with injury, made an appearance as a pinch runner in the ninth inning on Sunday – a good sign going into the NCAA Tournament.
Next up

It’s unlikely that Southern Miss will host a regional this year, but the team is virtually a shoo-in as a two-seed somewhere. The full field of 64 will be announced on Monday at 11 a.m. CT.

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