AUBURN, Ala. — Southern Miss baseball will play in a NCAA Tournament regional final for the fourth consecutive season.
The two-seeded Golden Eagles earned the right to take on fourth-seeded Penn (34-14) for a trip to the super regionals by topping third-seeded Samford, 9-4, on Sunday at Plainsman Park. They'll have to beat the fourth-seeded Quakers twice in a row to advance. The first of those games is scheduled for Sunday night (8:42 p.m. CT, ESPN+).
Southern Miss (43-18) arrived in the top of the sixth inning trailing by one, but used a four-run outburst to establish control over the Bulldogs (37-25), who had beaten USM in the opening game of the regional.
Freshman second baseman Nick Monistere delivered the clutch hit the situation demanded, grounding a double down the first-base line that scored Reece Ewing and Danny Lynch.
Matthew Etzel followed three batters later with a two-run single that gave Southern Miss all the cushion it needed to see out the win.
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Both teams stick with their starter after weather delay
With the teams knotted in a 1-1 deadlock in the top of the third inning, a storm forced them off the field.
The weather delay lasted 2:18, but both coaches elected to keep their starting pitchers on the bump when play resumed.
The Golden Eagles jumped Samford starter Will Lynch for two runs in that third inning, but that was all he allowed before turning it over to the Bulldogs' bullpen after five innings of work.
USM starter Matt Adams managed to deliver a shutdown inning in the third, but he departed without recording an out in the fourth. His replacement, Kros Sivley, allowed two of his inherited runners to score.
Southern Miss flashes the leather behind bullpen
Sivley excelled for the Golden Eagles thereafter, providing four scoreless innings to help get Southern Miss over the line.
He benefitted from some outstanding defensive plays in big spots, too.
With two runners on base in the fifth inning, USM's Carson Paetow made an outstanding diving snag in right field to save at least one run. In a similar spot in the seventh, Ewing came through with a sliding catch. Ewing also made a leaping catch up against the wall in left field.
Sivley ran into trouble in the eighth, allowing the first two batters he faced to reach. But Chandler Dawson came on to escape the jam and close out the ninth.
David Eckert covers sports for the Clarion Ledger. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach him on Twitter @davideckert98.
This article originally appeared on Hattiesburg American: USM baseball tops Samford, advances to regional final in NCAA Tournament