Southern Miss hosted the Northwestern State Demons for a three-game series over the weekend. The Pete Taylor Field gave USM a generous home-field advantage as the Golden Eagles improved to 7-0 on the season, continuing an explosive start to the season collecting 38 hits, 30 RBIs and six home runs during the series.
In the opening game, Northwestern State started the scoring in the fifth inning with a RBI single from right fielder Bret Underwood.
Southern Miss, however, did not take long to respond. After the Demons reached on a throwing error, shortstop Nick Dawson advanced to second base and later scored on a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 1-1.
The Demons regained the lead in the top sixth, and in the bottom half of the inning the Golden Eagles struck back twice with one swing. Designated hitter Daniel Keating hit his first career collegiate home run, bringing in two to score.
“It’s just awesome because so much momentum builds off of that,” Keating said. “These last four games, a home run has sparked the offense.”
With a 3-1 lead, the Golden Eagles kept the Demons at bay in the seventh, an inning in which, Southern Miss lit up the scoreboard.
Jake Sandlin doubled to get on base. Then, Tim Lynch was hit by a pitch, putting two on with one out. Taylor Braley hit a single past third base to score Sandlin for a 4-2 lead. Chase Scott walked to load the bases.
Following a pitching change, Chuckie Robinson singled to left, hitting in Lynch and pushing the lead to three runs.
Southern Miss was not done yet, as Keating drove in his third run of the game when he was hit by a pitch. Storme Cooper recorded his first hit of the season with a two- run single to give Southern Miss an 8-2 lead to close the inning.
The Demons came out in the eighth with two runs on three hits to narrow the deficit to four. After keeping the Golden Eagles off the board in the bottom of the inning, Northwestern State came into the ninth looking to rally four runs to force extras. Their bid for extra innings came to an end with a strike-out, falling 8-6.
Cord Cockrell pitched the first five innings, allowing only two runs on seven hits while fanning four batters.
Demon pitcher Walker Powell stepped in and faced 12 batters, allowing four hits and recording three strikeouts.
Powell received the win for his first of the season and Cody Livingston received his first save of the season.
In game two, the scoring came in bunches for the Golden Eagles. The home team batted around in back-to-back innings, sending 11 to the plate in a season-high, seven-run third inning and 10 batters in a six-run, fourth inning.
“We’ve been scoring some runs on Saturdays for sure,” coach Scott Berry said. “All the way around, even though it was just three innings we scored in, but the two big innings, in college baseball, when you hit somebody for 13 runs in two innings, it’s hard to recover from that.”
Highlights from the third inning included a Braley three- run homer and an ejection of Northwestern State coach Lane Burroughs.
In between the Golden Eagles’ onslaught, the Demons were able to get on the board with two runs.
In the fourth inning, Southern Miss had six cross the plate on only three hits, including a two- run home run by Lynch that sparked the inning.
Southern Miss’ bats went cold until the bottom of the eighth, when Scott doubled to center and Claudio Rubiera homered to left pushing the score to 15-2.
Rubiera’s home run marked the fourth time Southern Miss has hit multiple home runs in a game this season.
The Demons scored three in the top of the ninth to make the final score 15-5.
Jake Winston received his first win of the season on the mound, going 5.2 innings allowing only three hits and two runs. Sandlin, Lynch, Scott, Robinson and Keating all each scored twice.
In the final game of the series, Southern Miss looked to sweep a three-game series for the second time this season.
The scoring stayed consistent in the final game with scoring coming early, with the Demons getting on the board first with a sac fly in the second inning.
Southern Miss responded with a run of their own from the bat of Cooper, grounding out to second, scoring Keating to tie the game in the second.
In the fourth inning, Cooper batted in another run, this time with a knock to center. Robinson came in to score tying the game at 2-2.
Braley continued his productive weekend with a homerun over the left field wall, extending the lead to 3-2.
In the sixth inning, a Dawson RBI double, Dylan Burdeaux RBI single and a Braley RBI single, pushed the Southern Miss lead to four.
A Northwestern State home run in the seventh made the score 6-3. Northwestern State also scored in the eighth with two runs of their own, making the final score 8-5.
The winning pitcher for the Golden Eagles was Kirk McCarty, the Demons were able to score two runs off three hits against McCarty.
Livingston registered his second save of the season.
The Golden Eagles will return to the diamond March 1, as they travel to Mobile, Alabama to face South Alabama. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.