Dustin Dickerson was on his way back to the dugout, after striking out in the top of the first, when he heard UAB catcher Henry Hunter address him.
The Southern Miss shortstop wasn’t having it.
“We comin.' We comin,' ” Dickerson assured Hunter on the heels of a string of other – more choice – words.
How right he was. Dickerson and the Golden Eagles came back from two separate deficits and later broke a 3-all tie on a Slade Wilks solo home run in the fifth. The former Columbia Academy star’s 10th home run of the season was the difference, as top-seeded Southern Miss (42-14) held off the feisty Blazers 4-3 in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament at Pete Taylor Park.
The Golden Eagles will face UTSA (36-19) at 10 a.m. Friday. The Roadrunners and Owls were originally set to square off Wednesday, but a lengthy rain delay during Louisiana Tech’s win over Charlotte forced officials to adjust the schedule.
Here are three takeaways from the victory.
SOUTHERN MISS BASEBALL: 8-6-3-2: How an improbable defensive play 6 years ago sparked a revival
Wilks’ historic homer
UAB starter Jackson Reynolds was one strike away from getting out of the fifth with the game still tied.
But Wilks blistered his 0-2 pitch – 105 miles an hour off the bat. It landed 412 feet away, deep in the Right Field Roost.
Besides being the difference-maker, Wilks’ long ball was also historic. He joined Christopher Sargent (20), Will McGillis (15), Carson Paetow (13) and Reece Ewing (10) as Golden Eagles with 10 or more home runs this season.
That’s happened only one other time in program history (1997), according to Southern Miss’ sports information staff, when Jeremy Schied (16), Scott Cheek (13), Brady Mills (12), Cliff Wren (12) and Jeremy Albritton (10) each reached double-digits.
Vintage Tanner Hall
Fresh off winning the Ferris Trophy (awarded to the state’s top collegiate baseball player), Southern Miss starter Tanner Hall (8-2) delivered another strong performance.
The right-hander gave up three runs (two earned) over 6.1 innings, striking out 10 and walking one. Hall came into the game ranked second in the country in strikeout-to-walk ratio (12.0) and eighth in strikeouts (120).
Southern Miss needed momentum. Trailing 3-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth, the Golden Eagles found it in an unconventional way.
After Blake Johnson cut it to 3-2 with an RBI single, Paetow trotted home when Reynolds was called for a balk.
Reach sports writer Jason Munz at email@example.com or on Twitter @munzly.
This article originally appeared on Hattiesburg American: Southern Miss takes down UAB at the C-USA tournament. Here are 3 takeaways