ATLANTA — In a game that featured 11 home runs, Joey Archer sensed something special when he scored on a passed ball in the ninth inning.
“It was definitely up and down, up and down,” Archer said. “We had to come back and play hard every inning.”
Kyle Maxie had a pinch-hit two-run homer, Bo Davis added a solo shot to highlight a five-run ninth inning and Southern Miss beat Elon 17-15 in their NCAA tournament opener Friday.
Southern Miss (36-23) hit six of the game’s 11 homers.
Bennett Davis hit three solo shots for Elon, but Thomas Girdwood failed to hold a 13-12 lead in the ninth inning. The Phoenix closer, who failed to earn his 18th save, allowed two hits, four runs and two walks while only recording one out.
“He’s second in the country in saves,” Elon coach Mike Kennedy said. “He runs into trouble here and there, but he’s our guy, and we’re going to go to him. I just thought he was a little too jacked up. He had a little too much energy, and he was overthrowing and couldn’t calm himself down.”
After Adam Doleac’s pinch-hit RBI double forced a 13-all tie, Archer scored from third on a passed ball that put Southern Miss ahead 14-13. Maxie’s homer chased Girdwood, and John Brebbia gave up Bo Davis’ 12th homer and second of the day.
“We have to keep hitting,” Archer said after going 4 for 4 with four RBIs. “That’s all we can do.”
The Phoenix (41-12), who have lost three of four, will face the Georgia Tech-Georgia State loser on Saturday.
Elon scored twice in the ninth on Neal Pritchard’s two-run shot, but Kyle Lindsey, the sixth Southern Miss pitcher, struck out Pat Irvine to strand a runner at second in a non-save situation.
Collin Cargill (4-3) earned the win after giving up five hits, three runs, no walks and striking out one in 1 2-3 innings.
“It was one of the wildest games I’ve been in (during) my career,” Southern Miss coach Corky Palmer said. “The guys never gave in, hung in there, and we finally got them out.”
The Phoenix (40-17), who face the Game 2 loser on Saturday, led 17-13 after a five-run ninth.
Chase Austin went 2 for 5 with a game-high five RBIs for Elon.
Bo Davis was 3 for 5 with four RBIs for Southern Miss, but Golden Eagles starter Todd McInnis, the Conference-USA pitcher of the year, gave up six hits, five runs, one walk and struck out five in 3 2-3 innings.
Elon starter Tom Porter allowed seven hits, eight runs and one walk with no strikeouts in 1 2-3 innings. Bennett Davis now has 17 homers this season. He was proud of the Phoenix for rallying to erase an 8-0 deficit in the second.
“Any time you’re down eight runs, you have to have that mindset,” Bennett Davis said. “Our offense is pretty talented one through nine, and we think that any time we can put up a six-spot or an eight-spot. We just chipped away, and that’s the sign of a pretty veteran club.”
George Henry/The Associated Press