Southern Miss (19-6, 5-1) continued its hot start to the 2016 season with a 3-0 sweep over conference foe University of Texas-San Antonio (10-13, 1-5). The Golden Eagles’ bats were hot the entire series as they totalled 34 hits in only three games.
“Right now, we’re a tough lineup to pitch to, from top to bottom,” said coach Scott Berry. “But that’s a credit to our guys, our hitting coaches and the plans they have.”
The series started off in dramatic fashion as Tim Lynch hit his first walkoff of his Southern Miss career, giving the Golden Eagles their 17th win of the season in the opening game.
“I actually think I had a couple in high school and maybe a couple in travel ball,” Lynch said. “Defintely to do it here at The Pete is awesome, and the fans are great, but to do it especially in a game like this.”
Lynch led all batters with two hits and two RBIs, including both to tie the game and win it, respectively.
Taylor Braley got the game started in the second inning, homering for the second-straight game. That lead was quickly doubled when Chuckie Robinson knocked in an RBI double to extend the Golden Eagle lead.
The good times were quickly spoiled for Southern Miss as UTSA knocked in four runs on just three hits in the top of the fifth inning. The Golden Eagles would ease their way back into the game with a Robinson groundout in the sixth inning to bring in Lynch for the score, making the game 4-3.
UTSA would hold the advantage into the ninth, when Tim Lynch knocked in a walkoff, two-RBI single to give USM a 6-5 win in the first game of the series.
In the second game of the series, head football coach Jay Hopson got the night started with the opening pitch for the game. The Golden Eagles subsequently jumped on UTSA early and often.
USM would score four runs through five innings before UTSA answered back with a run of their own in the top of the sixth inning, making the score 6-1.
Braley was the man of the night as he sparked a five-run eighth inning with the team’s first grand slam of the season. It was the first grand slam since Michael Sterling in April 2015 and Braley’s eighth home run of the year.
The Golden Eagles would keep on cruising to a decisive 11-2 win over the Roadrunners while capitalizing on 14 hits.
In the third game of the series, junior Dylan Burdeaux stole the show.
“We started being aggressive early,” Burdeaux said. “I was actually being aggressive and trying to put a swing on it.”
Burdeaux totaled four RBIs and two home runs in the series finale. Those homers were his sixth and seventh of the season, respectively.
Not to be outdone, Kirk McCarty turned in his own dominating performance himself. McCarty pitched seven innings and struck out nine batters while only giving up six hits in the contest. To McCarty, he could have thrown a lot more strikes across the plate.
“I wanted a lot more, that would have been a lot of fun,” McCarty said. “Great day to hit the ball all- around, played defense and [a] great way to get the sweep.”
The team’s performance was all-around dominant, as Daniel Keating and Hunter Slater also hit home runs themselves. Only three out of the 11 batters that saw a pitch were not able to get on-base, in an efficient Southern Miss offense.
“As an offense, we always expect ourselves to score more than they do,” Burdeaux said. “No matter how much they score.”
A dominating pitching performance by McCarty combined with a plethora of hitting gave the Golden Eagles their 19th win on the season, and their fifth victory in six games of conference play.
The Golden Eagles have won their last 15 of 16 Conference USA games dating all the way back to last season and have captured their third series sweep of this season. On another note, USM is scoring 9.2 runs per game in conference play.
“It’s just hard to do in division one baseball, no matter who you’re playing,” Berry said. “It requires a lot of focus from your team for three straight days. I told them Friday that we couldn’t look ahead to Sunday, we had to take it one game at a time. They had to show up, be present every day both mentally and physically. I feel like our club did that all three days.”
The Golden Eagles will face in-state rival Mississippi State on March 29.