Dramatic rubber match gives USM series win
After a hard fought win against Alabama on Wednesday night, Southern Miss was able to keep their momentum going as they took two of three from a talented Troy team over the weekend.
In Friday’s game, it was all about the dominating pitching performance from starter Conor Fisk for USM in the 3-1 victory. Fisk tossed seven innings of five hit ball, gave up one run, walked three and struck out a career-high 13 batters.
Center fielder and lead-off man Connor Barron carried the offense, going 2-4 with 2 RBIs. He had an RBI double in the second inning and an RBI single in the sixth frame.
Designated hitter Matt Durst drove in the other USM run in the first with an RBI single.
Relievers Jay Myrick and Bradley Roney each pitched scoreless innings to end the game. Roney picked up his third save of the young season.
The roles were reversed in Saturday’s game as Troy starter Shane McCain dominated the USM lineup for seven innings en route to a 5-0 victory for the Trojans. McCain only allowed four hits, walked two and struck out six without allowing USM to get on the board.
For the game, USM only mustered five hits, all singles. First basemen Tim Lynch accounted for two of those hits.
USM starter Cameron Giannini turned in a solid performance, but the Golden Eagles needed him to be perfect for them to have a chance. He pitched six innings, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks while striking out four batters to pick up his first loss of the season.
The Trojans used a small ball approach to put runs on the board as they consistently put pressure on the USM defense with three successful bunts, two sacrifice flies and two stolen bases. Carrying a 3-0 lead into the top of the ninth, Troy manufactured two more runs to effectively put the game away.
The rubber match Sunday was by far the most exciting game of the weekend as USM came back to win in dramatic fashion. After a less than stellar offensive performance on Saturday, the USM bats woke up early on Sunday as they scored four runs in the opening frame.
Facing a full count, Barron walked to lead off the game and Michael Sterling followed with getting hit by a pitch. With runners then on first and second, Mason Robbins singled home Barron while Sterling advanced to third.
Durst then stepped to the plate and delivered for the Golden Eagles. Down 0-1 in the count, Durst sent the second pitch of the at-bat over the left field fence for a three-run home run, his first of the season.
Freshman Dylan Burdeaux then singled up the middle before Troy starter Will Starling struck out three of the next four batters to get out of the inning. Starling only lasted two innings, allowing four runs on three hits and two walks.
Troy answered with four runs of their own in the third inning and chased USM starter Taylor Nunez out of the game. Down 4-2, Troy third basemen Nick Masonia homered to tie the game. Nunez allowed four runs on five hits, two walks and hit two batters in just 2 2/3 innings or work.
USM took the lead back in the fourth when Sterling singled home Austin Roussel who led off the inning with a double. The next three innings flew by in large part to relievers Jake Winston of USM and Ted Bidwell of Troy.
Myrick entered the game in the seventh inning and struck out the last two batters he faced to get out of a big jam, but he struggled in the eight. Masonia led off the eighth with his second home run of the game before Troy manufactured another run to take the lead 6-5 entering the bottom of the frame.
Breck Kline, who was Wednesday night’s hero against Alabama, pinch hit for Lynch and delivered with another clutch single to get the rally started. Roney singled and Roussel walked to load the bases for Nick Dawson who hit a sacrifice fly to center field to knot the game up at six apiece.
Barron then reached on a fielder’s choice to second base that scored Roney and gave USM a 7-6 lead. Sterling walked to give USM runners on first and second, but Robbins struck out looking to end the frame.
Roney moved over from third base to the pitcher’s mound with the chance of picking up his second save of the series. Roney delivered on the mound once again as he struck out the side to pick up the save, his fourth of
“Winning this series was very big,” head coach Scott Berry said. “We had to be able to get in there and go toe-to-toe, and I think that’s exactly what you saw. Both sides didn’t give in.”
USM (6-6) will travel to Pensacola, Fla. to take on no. 23 Florida (6-5) Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m.