By Jim Mashek/Sun Herald
METAIRIE, La. –Southern Miss didn’t grab the lead in the seventh annual Wally Pontiff Classic until the top of the eighth inning.
And then things went due south for the 19th-ranked Golden Eagles.
LSU erased a one-run lead with three unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth, and reliever Matty Ott retired the Golden Eagles in order in the ninth as the Tigers claimed an 8-6 victory before a crowd of about 9,700 at Zephyr Field.
Southern Miss catcher Jared Bales, who delivered the RBI single to put the Golden Eagles in front, handled a chopper in front of the plate before unleashing a throw that sailed down the right-field line for a three-base error. Two runs scored on the play, and LSU’s Trey Watkins added a sacrifice fly before the inning was over.
LSU improved to 24-14 while the Golden Eagles dropped to 27-9.
“We had too many missed opportunities, offensively, throughout the game,” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. “We didn’t step up and execute, when we had a runner on third and less than two outs. We didn’t get the two-out hits, and you’ve got to do that to be a great team.
“We didn’t play well enough at the end of the game, and that’s the bottom line. We had all the momentum, and you’ve got to be able to close.”
Southern Miss closer Collin Cargill (4-3) took the loss while Ott earned his first victory in three decisions.
“We put the ball in play and forced them to make some plays,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “We had some fortutious things happen, but one of the things I like to say is luck is the residue of design.”
Boomer Scarborough, USM’s starting pitcher, was pulled after giving up a home run to LSU catcher Ty Ross to lead off the second. The blast to left field gave the Tigers a 3-1 lead.
Grant Dozar, the Tigers’ shortstop, went 3-for-4 with a home run in the sixth inning and finished the game with three RBIs.
The Eagles’ Dillon Day pitched six innings and allowed just two runs, both earned, on seven hits.
“Dillon gave us a chance to win,” Berry said.