/USM completes sweep, thoroughly enjoys it

USM completes sweep, thoroughly enjoys it

HATTIESBURG — Matt Wallner, Southern Miss’s preseason All American and multi-talented player, has never been one to be emotional. He said, “Far from it actually,” after his team had won a three-game sweep over Mississippi State. Wallner, a Forest Lake, Minn native, is more than just oblivious to the intra-state rivalries that so often consume Mississippians. Wallner leapt 6 feet, 5 inch and 220 pound into the air after his fastball of 94 mph sailed past Josh Hatcher’s swinging bat. It was a surprise to his teammates. Wallner was surprised by it. Wallner later admitted, somewhat sheepishly, that he had never done it. Why now? He said, “This was amazing, as good and as good as it gets.” Southern Miss outscored Mississippi State 23-6 in three games and outhit the Bulldogs 26-2. The Golden Eagles out-fielded and out-ran State, as well as out-pitched them. Andy Cannizaro (State coach), whose father played for USM once said, “This was an awful weekend for us to say the least. A lot of it has do with how great Southern Miss is.” They’re a mature, veteran team that has outstanding, huge athletes, but we’re still not there yet.” Which raises the question: What should State do to get there? Cannizaro chuckled. He said, “We need to hit and pitch better.” “That covers it.” But let us not forget Wallner, who was a freshman when the Golden Eagles won a school record 50 victories and earned the right to host a regional. The season ended with State winning the regional in Hattiesburg, defeating USM 8-1, and 8-6 in championship round. Many Golden Eagles spoke about how that final was such a devastating punch to the gut. Some said that they will never forget the feeling. Wallner was not one of them. Wallner stated that he didn’t dwell too much on the subject. Wallner said that he didn’t dwell on it. Wallner made two circus catch to save the game. One was to end State’s fifth innings and the other was to end State’s seventh. Both were amazing, but the last was the most important. USM led 5-2, State had runners at first & second with Hunter Vansau at the plate. Vansau drove Cody Carroll’s pitch in left center for what appeared to be an additional base hit. It could have been one or two runs. Wallner, however, jumped into the gap and stretched his long body to grab the ball. Cannizaro stated, “He’s an incredible athlete.” “He made those great catch and then he closed out the game,” Cannizaro said. Reynolds went six-for-10 at the plate over the weekend with two doubles and a home run. He also scored six runs, had five more RBI, and stole a base. Listen: Reynolds was responsible for 11 USM runs over the weekend. Six State wins. Reynolds stated, “I enjoyed every minute of it.” It was amazing. “It was just amazing. These were three games. USM will play 56, State 56. There will be many opportunities for the worm to turn. Scott Berry, USM coach, believes the worm will turn for State. Berry spoke highly of the Bulldogs, saying that they are a “new team with many new players.” They have a lot to offer. They are able to put it all together. They just need to find the right combination.” The Golden Eagles are currently free from such an issue.