The Golden Eagles took two out of three home games against FIU in a series win, accumulating a 10-2 conference record over the weekend that still paces C-USA for first place in the standings.
The first game of the series went just as planned for Southern Miss, blasting FIU 15-4 on the strength of Matt Wallner’s four RBIs and a home run shot. The Golden Eagles were guided on the mound by Kirk McCarty, who struck out seven batters and gave up the four runs.
“It’s big getting a win on Friday,” said right fielder Mason Irby. “Then, you put pressure on them. We don’t have to play with that pressure. Not have to worry about wins and losses — just do what we do and let that take care of itself.”
That pressure was applied for the next game in the series as FIU deployed Kyle Myrick on the mound who only gave up two runs on three hits while striking out five batters. Even though USM was not able to get runs early in the game, the start of the fifth inning would spell doom for the Panthers as USM racked up two runs in that inning, then got a run in each of the seventh and eighth periods.
“It’s a different game every time you play and you’ve got to find ways to win in other ways besides out-slugging people and scoring runs,” Berry said. “Tough ballgame. They came out but we just played a little bit of better today.”
The Golden Eagles were able to fight for a 5-1 win over FlU on Saturday, displacing any notion that they cannot win close games this year due to a lack of pitching. But, the mound work is what guided Southern Miss to the win.
“Just throwing up zero’s for the team,” said pitcher Colt Smith in reference to his team’s bullpen. “We’re just feeding off of one another. I’m just doing whatever I can to go out there and help my team out and to come out with the win.”
Despite winning games one and two in convincing fashion against Florida International, the Golden Eagles were not able to complete the sweep on Sunday, losing 10-4.
“They did what they had to do with their backs against the wall salvaging the game,” Berry said. “We knew that going in. We didn’t do anything well enough to [sweep] against a team that was hungry for a win.”
Nine different pitchers were used in the contest against FlU, as the Panthers scored in every inning but the first. Southern Miss had nine hits on the night, but left nine on base.
“It’s pivotal,” Wallner said. “We didn’t capitalize on those opportunities and they really did. They got hits when they needed to. They did everything that we didn’t do.”
Southern Miss will take on in-state rival Ole Miss at Pete Taylor Park on Tuesday at 7 p.m.