The Southern Miss baseball team (35-12, 19-4 C-USA) swept the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers (19-26, 11-13 C-USA) in three games this past weekend, cementing the team’s first-place status in the conference standings and earning them national recognition in the process.
In game one of the series, the Golden Eagles worked together to assemble a shutout performance. Luke Reynolds hit a two-run home run in the top of the first inning to give Southern Miss the early lead, and Nick Sandlin continued his dominance on the mound, pitching a complete game. Sandlin allowed six hits while striking out nine batters in the 6-0 win.
Southern Miss scored six more runs in game two to earn the 6-1 victory. The Blazers scored first in the game in the bottom of the third inning, but a Matthew Guidry RBI triple and a Matt Wallner RBI double in the top of the fourth got the Golden Eagles back on track. Reynolds hit his second two-run home run of the series in the fifth inning, and two more runs in the top of the ninth sealed the win.
The offense came alive in the top of the second inning of game three for the Golden Eagles. Erik Hoard kicked things off for Southern Miss with a two-run homer to left-center field, his second of the season. LeeMarcus Boyd, Guidry and Cole Donaldson also scored in the inning to give the team the early 6-0 advantage. UAB kept things close for the majority of the game, however, scoring one run in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings to cut the Southern Miss lead to 6-4. Three more runs in the top of the ninth from the Golden Eagles sealed the series sweep.
Walker Powell earned the win in game three for Southern Miss, allowing eight hits and four runs while walking one batter and striking out one. Wallner, Keller Bradford, Adam Jackson and J.C. Keys also made relief appearances on the mound for the team.
With this recent sweep and the team’s performance as of late, people all across the country have started to give more notice to Southern Miss. Not only has Southern Miss won 12 out of its last 13 games, but the team now holds a 3.5 game lead over second-place Florida Atlantic for control of first place in the Conference USA baseball standings. Furthermore, the national baseball website D1Baseball.com placed Southern Miss as the ninth-ranked team in the country in their Top-25 rankings on May 7, just behind Clemson and just ahead of East Carolina.
The Golden Eagles have found their stride at the right point in the season, especially with the conference tournament coming right around the corner. Offensively, the team is finding a stride, with five players currently batting over .300. Weekend pitching has also become a strong point, with Sandlin, Powell and Powers each showing stamina and the ability to register strikeouts when they are most needed.
The bullpen has also settled down and found a rhythm, giving the Golden Eagles a sort of safety net when a starting pitcher runs into trouble on the mound.
These factors bode well for the team as they enter the final stretch of the regular season. If they can continue to generate the performances they have had lately, then the team could be looking at a long and successful postseason, possibly in Hattiesburg.