BILOXI –Pitching continued to get the job done for Southern Miss with another solid performance delivered in the C-USA tournament, this time by starter Stevie Powers in the team’s 5-3 win over the University of Texas at San Antonio. Powers’ arm helped lead Southern Miss to its 11th 40-win season.
Powers had missed the last two weekends of the regular season due to a forearm injury, but that did not seem to faze the pitcher who took the mound for the first time in 20 days. Along with the lingering injury, Powers was also forced to deal with a one hour and four-minute lighting delay after pitching in the first inning of the game.
“For [Powers] to come out here, obviously he is anxious to get back on the mound,” head coach Scott Berry said. “[Powers] thought he was going to start in game one, now he is pushed to game two so there is a lot of emotion I think in his mind as he goes into it. But very mature young man. A guy that we have seen mature as he has been in our program and developed. A lot of things didn’t go in his favor but he was able to have control what he could control and that was getting those guys out and he really gutted it out.”
After the delay, Powers’ main concern was making sure his injury did not become a problem.
“Really frustrating,” Powers said. “This is the type of injury where it can tighten up on you so you have to stay on top of it. I was kind of worried about that a little bit. [I had] to keep it loose, keep the heat on it, keep throwing, underneath I was playing catch.”
Despite the problems, Powers completed seven innings and allowed two runs, four hits, no walks and struck out five batters.
While Powers found success, Southern Miss’ batters also put together a strong outing, notching 12 hits. However, the UTSA infield made several great plays that potentially robbed Southern Miss of more runs.
“We’re more of an offense, where if we’re hitting balls hard, we know that we can go at any time,” Matt Wallner, who went 2-for-5, said. “We would rather get in there and do that rather than striking out. We had some really good at bats [but UTSA] made the plays so give credit to [UTSA].”
In the third inning Matt Wallner hit a solo home run, which gave him his first of two RBIs and extended Southern Miss’ lead to 3-0. However, UTSA responded with a two-run home run in the fourth inning to cut the deficit, 3-2.
In the sixth inning, LeeMarcus Boyd knocked in run with an RBI single to make the score 4-2.
UTSA closed the deficit again to a run at 4-3 in the eighth inning, but Southern Miss then scored another pivotal run in the top of the ninth inning via a Luke Reynolds walk. That walk brought in an insurance run after UTSA loaded the bases for the Golden Eagles.
The win over UTSA keeps Southern Miss perfect in the winner’s bracket. Southern Miss will play the winner of the Charlotte-UTSA game on Saturday, while the winner of that game will have to beat the Golden Eagles twice. Game time is set for 12:30 p.m. tomorrow, weather permitting