Southern Miss came off of the heels of its offensive showing against Old Dominion on Wednesday, pouring it on early against Marshall en route to a 9-3 win on Thursday.
The Golden Eagles did not play their best ball at the beginning of the contest. In just the first inning, Southern Miss gave up two runs on three hits in short order.
“They are a different lineup,” said starting pitcher Kirk McCarty. “Their approach from now to where they were in the beginning of the season is completely different. We had to play a lot of defense today.”
McCarty helped to set the tone early for the Golden Eagles on the mound. McCarty pitched 5.1 innings while giving up three runs on seven hits. He also struck out three batters.
Rather than sitting back on their heels, Southern Miss nearly went through its entire rotation en route to putting up three runs of their own in the bottom of the first inning.
“They’re seeing [the ball] really well, you just stay out of [our team’s] way,” said coach Scott Berry. “They’re a team that is playing really well together and I think from top to bottom in the order.”
USM again exploded on the scoreboard, this time for five runs in the third inning on the back of inefficient pitching from Marshall’s Parker Danciu, who gave up a triple, a walk and a score all in just the third inning to give the Golden Eagles a 4-2 lead.
After Thundering Herd coach Jeff Waggoner pulled Danciu in favor for JD Hammer, the Golden Eagles were still able to put runs up. This time in the form of a Jake Sandlin grand slam — his sixth home run of the season — to put the Golden Eagles up 8-2.
“He didn’t give me anything to worry about other than a fast ball,” Sandlin said. “Precision beats power and timing beats speed.”
With the philosophical approach to the at-bat where he hit his second home run of the tournament, he saw the ball well enough on the pitch to knock it out of the park.
“I knew I got it,” Sandlin said. “On a scale of one to ten, I hit it about a 12.”
McCarty limited Marshall after the first inning by blanking them in the second and third, but gave up a solo shot to Tyler Ratliff in the fourth. Again, Southern Miss would answer in the form of a home run to put them up 9-3, this time from Chuckie Robinson — his 16th of the year.
“We went back to our identity which is feeding off of each other [and] not having selfish at-bats,” Robinson said. “Just trusting each other and we’re back at it.”
The Golden Eagles were able to get runners on base, but were not able to capitalize on any more runs to fulfill the run rule. Marshall on the other side, was held in the same predicament as they were not able to close the gap between the teams.
With Nick Johnson coming in for relief for McCarty in the sixth inning and Nick Sandlin coming on in the ninth inning to preserve the lead, USM was able to cruise for their second straight win in as many days.
“Kirk [McCarty], he weathered that storm after giving up the two runs in the first inning,” Berry said. “Nick Johnson came in out of the pen, also important, and gave us those zeroes. [Nick} Sandlin, of course, there at the end.”
Southern Miss will face the winner of FIU-Marshall on May 28 at 12:30 p.m.