HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Hunter Elliott limited #No.11 national seed Southern Miss to just three hits over 7 1/3 innings to lead Ole Miss to the Hattiesburg Super Regional title Sunday afternoon at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field.
The Golden Eagles completed their season at 47-19, having won its 6th Conference USA regular season championship, capturing its first regional at home and hosting their first-ever Super Regional. Ole Miss (37-22) advanced to the College World Series with the pair of wins.
“The journey started back in February, actually in August, but you know, the book really started getting hot in February.,” said Southern Miss coach Scott Berry. “And that’s what I told them today before the game, ‘we’re the author of the book, we decide when it ends.’ Unfortunately, today, it ended, but within that book there’s a lot of great stories in there. Regular season conference champs in the last year that we’re in C-USA. Forty-seven wins, hosting a regional for the third time in the program’s history, second in five years.”
Elliott limited the Golden Eagles to an infield single by Will McGillis in the third inning, before retiring the next 16 Southern Miss batters in a row. Southern Miss, the designated visiting team, ended the streak with a leadoff single by Slade Wilks up the middle to start the top of the eighth.
After a fielder’s choice, Gabe Montenegro singled to end his Golden Eagle career with 319 career hits – finishing second all-time before Trey Sutton’s 327. That ended Elliott’s day and Josh Mallitz came in and got Blake Johnson to strike out before waling Reece Ewing to load the bases. Mallitz then got Carson Paetow to pop out to short to end the best Golden Eagle offensive threat of the day.
Elliott improved to 4-3 with the victory as he fanned 10 and did not walk to garner the victory. Mallitz threw the final 1 2/3 frames to earn his second save. Golden Eagle starter Tanner Hall gave up four runs on eight hits with a walk and six strikeouts to suffer the loss and end his season record at 9-3.
The game remained scoreless until the fifth when the Rebels jumped out front with three runs. Calvin Harris opened the frame with a single, before an out. Justin Bench then doubled to put runners at second and third before Ole Miss plated their first run on a passed ball. Jacob Gonzalez then knocked in a run with a run-scoring single before Kevin Graham added another run-scoring single of his own. Bench added another RBI single in the sixth and TJ McCants homered in the eighth, his seventh of the year, to complete the game’s scoring.
The Golden Eagles finished their season capturing 40 or more wins for the sixth-straight season – the most by any Division I team in the country.
Southern Miss head baseball coach Scott Berry, pitcher Tanner Hall, and outfielder Gabe Montenegro all spoke about the loss and the season after the game. Video is courtesy of Southern Miss Athletics.