Matt Wallner hadn’t gotten a hit through nine innings of Southern Miss’ game Thursday against Rice to open the Conference USA tournament. The fifth time was apparently the charm for USM’s home run king, though, because in his fifth at-bat he hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the tenth inning to lift the Golden Eagles to a 6-4 win over Rice.
The loss breaks a two-game losing streak against the Owls. Southern Miss improves to 35-19 on the season and will now face Marshall in the second round of the tournament.
USM had to overcame a quality effort from Matt Canterino and a three-run deficit for Wallner to have the opportunity to provide the late-game heroics.
Southern Miss couldn’t find an answer for the C-USA Pitcher of the Year, but once he came off after six innings and nine strikeouts and Garrett Gayle took his place, suddenly the Golden Eagles had plenty.
The Golden Eagles started to cut into Rice’s 4-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh when Erick Hoard brought a run in with an RBI-double.
Southern Miss mounted a furious comeback which continued into the game’s final frame. With his team down to its final out of the game, Storme Cooper laced a two-run double down the rightfield line to close the gap to one run. A wild pitch then allowed Jacob Edwards to score, tying the game at four and forcing extra innings.
The Golden Eagles and the Thundering Herd will face off at 4.p.m. Thursday.