Southern Miss (5-5) ended a three-game losing streak with a home victory over the Southern University Jaguars on Wednesday night. The Golden Eagles overcame three early Southern runs by scoring runs in five of eight innings of offense, along with several stellar pitching performances out of the bullpen.
The Golden Eagles’ scored the first run of the contest on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the first inning that allowed Gabe Montenegro to reach home plate. The Jaguars responded quickly with three runs of their own in the top of the second inning, bringing starting pitcher Josh Lewis’ day to an early end.
However, Southern Miss’ bats stayed warm to help weather the second-inning storm and retake the lead. A single by Matt Wallner in the fourth inning allowed Montenegro and Franklin to score, and Erick Hoard then widened the gap with another two-run single in the same inning.
Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry talked about how Hoard has settled into his offensive role in recent contests.
“I’ve been real proud of [Hoard] and his at-bats,” Berry said. “I thought he had some real quality at-bats, not only just driving in runs, but he’s squaring up the ball, hitting the ball hard, and taking his walks, too.”
Hoard finished the night 1-for-2 at the plate with three RBIs and two walks.
Junior right-handers Hunter Stanley and Cody Carroll combined for four innings of shutdown pitching in the contest. Stanley was the winning pitcher, after pitching two full innings and allowing no runs on three hits while striking out two batters.
Carroll added yet another solid performance to his 2019 resume, throwing four strikeouts and allowing no runs on just two hits, a suitable way to follow up last week’s career-high six strikeout performance against New Orleans.
“Of his [Carroll’s] four outings so far, three of them have been really, really good,” Berry said. “He’s been really good when he’s needed to be. After giving up the three runs, we turned it over to him and the rest of the staff, and they just kept hanging those zeroes on the board. A lot of that did start with Cody.”
In the sixth inning, Hoard walked across home plate to score a run of his own, thanks to a single up the middle by Danny Lynch. Two innings later, Fred Franklin scored the Golden Eagles’ last run on a sacrifice fly hit by Bryant Bowen. Franklin also stole two bases in the outing, bringing his season total to a team-high of five.
Redshirt junior Brant Blaylock closed the contest on the mound in his pitching debut for the Golden Eagles in the ninth inning. This was Blaylock’s first appearance since suffering an injury to his left hand that kept him out of the batting lineup in the series against Mississippi State. The right-hander struck out two batters and forced a ground out to retire the side in just three at-bats.
Southern Miss’ next contest will take place on Friday afternoon when the team’s weekend series against Holy Cross (1-11) gets underway at Pete Taylor Park. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.