OXFORD – Shaky starting pitching, often a problem deep in tournament play, reared its head in the championship round of the Oxford Regional on Sunday night.
It just wasn’t for the team you would think.
Ole Miss, sitting in the catbird seat with wins in its first two regional games, watched right-hander Drew McDaniel get hammered, as 2 seed Southern Miss defeated the 1 seed Rebels 10-7 before 10,628 fans at Swayze Field.
It was the second win of the day for the Golden Eagles, who rallied to eliminate Florida State 7-4 earlier Sunday.
Ole Miss (43-20) and Southern Miss play one game for the regional championship today at noon.
Pitching heroes sometimes emerge in games like this, and freshman right-hander Tanner Hall was that man for Southern Miss (39-21).
Hall pitched 3 1/3 no-hit innings before giving up a one-out single to Hayden Leatherwood in the eighth. He quickly retired the next two batters to get out of the inning and allowed only one baserunner in the ninth to finish with five scoreless innings.
McDaniel was one of the heroes of improved Ole Miss pitching in last week’s SEC Tournament when he threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings against Georgia.
In his first NCAA regional start McDaniel recorded only two outs while giving up seven earned runs on six hits and a walk.
“Everything he threw they hit,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “Early on he didn’t get in some good counts, but the truth is they hit first pitches, first-pitch strikes … they were just on fire the first few innings.”
Southern Miss had 13 hits and two home runs, one by Reed Trimble who drove in four runs.
A patient Ole Miss offense used walks and hit batters to its advantage against right-hander Blake Wehunt the Golden Eagles starter who had thrown only eight innings on the season.
However, Southern Miss’ shocking response to a quick 4-0 deficit put the Rebels on their heels.
Tyler Myers replaced McDaniel. He allowed an inherited runner to score in the first and gave up two more runs in the second before settling in with three scoreless innings. Brandon Johnson got the last out of the sixth with runners on base after Myers reached 95 pitches.
Relief pitching gave the Rebels a window of opportunity, but their hitters could not take advantage of Hall.
“He had good movement on his fastball, and it was kind of hard to stand in there and go the other way,” Ole Miss catcher Hayden Dunhurst said. “We’ll get it going, and we’ll win tomorrow. I have no doubt in my mind about that.”
Hall carried a 6.35 ERA and had not gone more than two innings since a 3 1/3-inning appearance against South Alabama on opening day. He showed no wear and tear in throwing 64 pitches against the Rebels, almost doubling his season-high.
“A star was born, and that was Tanner Hall. He’s back strong and showed that tonight. He dominated a very good lineup in Ole Miss,” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said.