FAYETTEVILLE— A three-run home run by Cole Donaldson in the sixth inning opened up the floodgates for the Southern Miss’ offense, as the team came away with a 9-0 victory over Dallas Baptist in the opening round of the Fayetteville Regional.
“I was really proud with how our team came out and competed in the first inning on against a very good Dallas Baptist team,” head coach Scott Berry said. “I think at the end of the day, our guys were able to establish momentum and continued that momentum in scoring five of the eight innings. Then of course with Nick Sandlin and his ability to keep the opposition from scoring. Cole Donaldson really back sided some balls tonight the other way with a big double.”
The Southern Miss bats strung together a strong 10-hit performance behind Donaldson’s five RBIs. Like the hitting, starting pitcher Nick Sandlin did his normal thing and for the eighth time, this season threw at least 10 strikeouts, which brought his season total to 144 strikeouts.
Hunter Slater kick-started the Golden Eagles’ hitting with a solo home run in the second inning. Donaldson’s day started with an RBI double in the fourth inning, Mason Irby followed with an RBI single to put the Golden Eagles up 3-0.
The offense continued to find success with a four-run sixth inning which was led by Donaldson’s homer. Matthew Guidry later hit a sac fly to put the team up 7-0.
Southern Miss tacked on two more runs in the seventh in eighth innings with another RBI double by Donaldson and an RBI single by Reynolds.
Nick Sandlin found himself to be in an early pitching duel against Dallas Baptist’s starting pitcher Trevor Conn.
However, Conn was only able to last four innings and as he allowed three runs on four hits and two walks but did record seven strikeouts.
Sandlin found himself in two notable jams in the fourth and sixth innings. DBU was able to get two runners in scoring position with one out but Sandlin clamped down and struck out two batters to end the inning. DBU again loaded the bases with one out but Sandlin induced a double play to end the inning to prevent any damage.
In seven innings pitched, Sandlin finished with four hits, struck out ten and walked three batters.
“Dallas Baptist really battled him,” Berry said. “They laid off some pitches, of course, he had his strikeouts but he was at 102 pitches when he left the game through seven innings so They ran that pitch count up. They drew three walks which is usually not him. I thought [Dallas Baptist] competed against him really well.”
Southern Miss will now face Arkansas, who improved its home record to 31-3 on the season with its 10-2 win over Oral Roberts earlier in the day.
Arkansas will start left-handed pitcher Kacey Murphy, who has a 3.15 ERA to go with a 7-4 record, 69 strikeouts and 15 walks in 80 innings pitched. Southern Miss will start left-handed pitcher Stevie Powers, who posts a 5-1 record, 3.28 ERA, 71 strikeouts and 10 walks in 71.1 innings pitched.
“It’s going to be no different than anybody else,” Berry said. “We know they are a very offensive club they are 31-3 at home, all of those things are big challenges but if you look and keep the game simple every game is a challenge. We’re not going to approach anything different. We’ve got 44 wins we’ve been playing really well. I want our guys to come out here and not get in there on way.”
First pitch between Southern Miss and Arkansas is set for 7 p.m. Sout