The Golden Eagles continued their hot streak Tuesday night as they topped the UNO Privateers 9-7 on the road.
Southern Miss got things going early in the first inning with four runs to take command of the game. Connor Barron led off the game with a double and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt before scoring on a single from Tim Lynch.
After Matt Durst flied out, Mason Robbins walked to put runners at first and second for Dylan Burdeaux. Burdeaux delivered on a 1-0 pitch with a homer to left center to give USM a 4-0 lead.
In the third inning, Bradley Roney came up to hit with the bases loaded with two outs and hit a shot to left field to plate two more. Roney has become invaluable for the Golden Eagles both with his bat and his pitching late in ballgames.
Shaky defense once again came back to hurt USM in the fifth inning. A wild pitch scored the first run of the inning and Samuel Capielano tacked on another run with an RBI single. USM tried to shoot themselves in the foot again with a fielding error and a passed ball, but the Privateers could not capitalize on the scoreboard.
In the sixth inning, UNO tacked on three more runs on four hits, two sacrifice flies and another wild pitch. What seemed to be a game that would easily go the Golden Eagles’ way became a 6-5 ballgame.
After Michael Sterling scored on a wild pitch in the seventh inning, USM was able to extend their lead even further in the eighth. With the bases loaded and one out, Connor Barron singled on a full count offering to plate two and give USM a 9-5 lead.
But the drama was not over. Chaz Boyer doubled to center field to score Nick Morgan for UNO before Capielano delivered again with an RBI single. However, Ryan Milton was able to stop the bleeding and get out of the inning to hand over the ball to Roney who has been automatic this season in save situations.
Roney pitched a near perfect ninth inning and struck out the final two batters to pick up his ninth save of the season and drop UNO to 8-18 for the season.
The USM bats cooled off though Wednesday night against South Alabama who came into the game with a 13-14 record on the young season.
South Alabama’s Adam Ballew led off the bottom of the first inning with a single before Cole Gleason followed suit a batter later. After USM starter A.J. Glasshof struck out the next batter, Justin Cullifer got South Alabama on the board with an RBI single. However, there was not much drama after that as a pitching duel came to fruition.
Glasshof lasted 6 2/3 innings, allowing the lone run in the first on six hits and six strikeouts. South Alabama starter Jared Gates tossed seven shutout innings, but was charged with two unearned runs after allowing the first two batters in the eighth to reach base before being replaced. He allowed three hits, walked two and struck out seven.
That eighth inning, Chuckie Robinson led off with a single before Nick Dawson reached on an error on a sacrifice bunt attempt. Breck Kline followed suit reaching on a throwing error on another sacrifice bunt attempt that allowed Dawson and pinch runner Andrew Furr to score to give USM their first lead of the game.
After Sterling popped out on Southern Miss’ third consecutive bunt, Durst hit a sacrifice fly to center field to extend the lead to 3-1. All three runs were unearned due to the two South Alabama errors.
Up 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Mr. Automatic (Roney) came through once again for Southern Miss, picking up his tenth save of the year. It is not often that a team gets outhit 8-3 and wins by two runs, but USM is simply finding ways to win almost every game it seems these days.
Southern Miss (17-13, 6-3), winners of ten of their last 13 games, will host Middle Tennessee State this weekend in a Conference USA showdown at Pete Taylor Park.