Southern Miss earns series sweep over LA Tech

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Gabe Montenegro rounds third base. Photo by: Brad Crowe

Following a midweek loss to Louisiana-Lafayette on March 13, the Southern Miss baseball team rebounded to open up Conference USA play with a sweep of Louisiana Tech on the road. The series win gives the team an 11-6 overall record and a 3-0 record in conference play.

In the first contest on Friday, the two teams recorded a combined 21 runs and 27 hits. Matt Wallner kicked things off for Southern Miss with a three-run home run to right field in the first inning. LA Tech responded with a five-run second inning that included two home runs, giving the Bulldogs a 5-3 lead.  

Southern Miss bounced back with five runs across the third, fourth and fifth innings to retake the lead. LA Tech was not finished offensively in the contest, however. The Bulldogs scored two runs in the fifth inning to cut the Southern Miss lead to 9-7 and runs in the sixth and seventh innings to narrow Southern Miss’ lead again.

Brant Blaylock added a two-RBI single in the sixth inning and Matthew Slater hit a solo home run, his second of the game, in the ninth inning to give the team all the cushion it needed in the 12-9 win.

On the mound, Aaron Ginn earned his first win of the season after pitching three innings in relief. J.C. Keys earned his second save of the year, pitching two innings and striking out three batters in that span. Starting pitcher Walker Powell gave up five runs and six hits in two innings of work.  

The Golden Eagles continued their offensive tear in Game 2 on Saturday, recording 14 hits in a 5-1 win to clinch the series. Danny Lynch added an RBI single to center field in the second inning, which was followed by another RBI single by Slater and a two-RBI double by Erick Hoard in the third inning to give Southern Miss a 4-0 lead.

LA Tech added one run off of a walk during a bases-loaded situation in the fifth inning, but Southern Miss got out of that jam and added a run off of a Slater RBI double in the sixth inning to close out the win.

Once again, the Golden Eagles used four pitchers in the contest. Starter Stevie Powers allowed four hits, a run and recorded four strikeouts in 4.1 innings pitched. Sean Tweedy earned the win after 2.2 innings pitched, three hits allowed and recording two strikeouts.

Southern Miss once again scored double-digit runs in the final game of the series on Sunday. Cole Donaldson gave the Golden Eagles an early lead with a three-RBI double that scored Blaylock, Slater and Gabe Montenegro. The Bulldogs responded with a two-run home run in their frame of the first inning to cut Southern Miss’ lead to 3-2.

Bryant Bowen hit a sacrifice fly that allowed Blaylock to score, giving the Golden Eagles a 4-2 lead in the second inning. However, LA Tech added another run in the bottom of the second inning to once again cut Southern Miss’ lead, this time to 4-3.

Three Southern Miss in the fifth inning gave the team a 7-3 lead heading into the final two innings. LA Tech added one run apiece in the sixth and seventh innings, but home runs from Matthew Guidry and Bowen in the eighth and ninth innings put the stamp on the Game 3 win for the Golden Eagles.

Mason Strickland earned the Game 3 win on the mound after three innings of work where he allowed three hits, one run and struck out one batter.

Southern Miss recorded 40 hits over the weekend, including five home runs. The team also used 11 different pitchers on the mound over the course of the weekend.

The Golden Eagles’ next conference series is against Old Dominion at Pete Taylor Park from March 22-24. Old Dominion is 1-2 in C-USA play following its opening conference series against Charlotte. First pitch for the Friday game in the series is set for 6 p.m.