Southern Miss won its home weekend series over Western Kentucky, but the team is still searching for a level of consistency after spoiling two sweep opportunities in consecutive weekends.
After being delayed in the eighth inning on Friday, the first game of the series was completed prior to the second matchup on Saturday. Notably, starting ace pitcher Nick Sandlin was pulled in the first inning but the bullpen still salvaged the game. Southern Miss took the first game 8-2, but WKU bounced back to rout the Golden Eagles 7-1 in game two. Starting pitcher Stevie Powers had rough outing giving up seven earned runs on nine hits through five innings pitched.
Southern Miss was held to less than four runs in just the third game this season. Western Kentucky kept the Golden Eagles to one run on eight hits and was bolstered by a seven-run offensive attack. Following the loss, Head Coach Scott Berry was reflective of Southern Miss’ recent inconsistency and inability to get a collective performance in all departments.
“If you look at the last eight games, we’re 4-4,” Berry said. “We have not defended the ball well. Offensively, we have not had good swings. We’ve had to come from behind several times. We are not able to control and minimize the damage that’s been happening. We’re just not doing enough right to win baseball games like you have to, in a consistent manner.”
Berry’s comments came in reference to a collapse against Ole Miss, a failed sweep against Rice, a midweek series split with Louisiana-Lafayette and another failed sweep against WKU within a two-week span. The Golden Eagles had their RPI drop outside of the Top-50 after Saturday’ loss as well, making it even more critical for the team to find its stride heading into the final half of season.
Despite Saturday’s loss, the Golden Eagles regrouped and came alive on Sunday during the series finale. Walker Powell pitched a complete game on a mere 69 pitches while giving up just three hits as the Golden Eagles took a 14-1 run-rule win. Matt Wallner helped lead the way with two hits and four RBIs on the day. Gabe Montenegro contributed three hits himself, including his first home-run of his Southern Miss career. For Montenegro, it’s all about getting a rhythm.
“It felt good when it went out,” said Montenegro. “I was trying to make contact and get on base to help out the team. I just wanted to put the ball in play. [The win] is important for our confidence so we can get back in rhythm. We’re just trying to be prepared mentally.”
Southern Miss (22-9, 8-3 C-USA) will have the chance to make a bounce back statement as it is set to take on No. 3 Ole Miss next at Trustmark Park in Pearl, MS. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.